What do you think about the Microsoft Courier? Would you get one if you could?
When: July 24, 2010
7pm to 12am
Where: WonderRoot Community Arts Center
982 MEMORIAL DR SE ATLANTA, GA 30316
Meet Daryl, my tour guide, standing in front of his home. Daryl is an engineer who designs and configures solar water heaters for the residential market across the southeast. He integrates his 9-to-5 with his good stewardship to indulge in his real passion: environmental responsibility. As passionate environmentalists, Daryl and his wife have taken personal responsibility to a new level, engineering every square inch of their home for optimum function, sustainability and well, true need. In fact, a yellow card suspended from a string by their bathroom mirror reads: “Is it needed? Is it kind? Is it sustainable?” This, is their motto – their committment to being good stewards of the earth.
Daryl’s home can only be summed up in one word: ecclectic. Solar water tanks and photovoltaic panels dot the roof above operable clerestory windows. Deep, shade-providing overhangs hover over large, salvaged, double-insulated windows, in several sizes and colors. A covered, screened porch is adjacent the living area that is jammed-packed with books and art. And an uncovered, “sun” porch is lined with blossoming flowers and herbs. A vegetable garden, solar cooking device, mushroom garden, and compost piles also provide them with sustainable ways to cook, grow food, and sustainably fertilize their gardens.
Inside, the treads of the homemade stairs up to the sleeping loft, were trimmed by Daryl to minimize surface area, allowing the maximum amount of sunlight penetration to the kitchen and living areas below. The two-story high space allows hot air to rise and solar-powered fans blow the heated air out of the high clerestory windows above. In fact, all of their electricity is generated with photovoltaics and stored in a battery bank in the basement.
While not exactly what architects would typically call “aesthetically- pleasing design,” I thought it was perfect: the ultimate in fine-tuned engineering based on the true NEED for shelter. Each piece of Daryl’s home was analyzed and planned for optimum daylighting, heating in the winter, cooling in the summer, and to be completely self-sustaining.
THE UNDERGROUND HOUSE
Next stop on this gorgeous day, was the underground house. The group of 20 or so walked up a small hill and didn’t immediately realize we were walking on it’s roof, which also serves as their vegetable and herb garden. Beyond the garden, was the top of the house, where a “drain-back solar hot water system” was mounted at the optimum angle for this specific latitude. In this system, water ”drains back,” or out of the piping when the outdoor temperature is too low, so the pipes do not freeze. Water is then heated by a wood stove in the winter.
Around the south side of the home (the only exposed facade), the owners planted grapes for shade throughout the summer. In the fall and winter, when the plants die back, the sunlight is allowed to come streaming in, and helps heat the home. Inside, the structure of the home consisted of three giant boxed-in I-beams resting on load-bearing walls. All vertical surfaces are painted bright white to reflect natural light around the interior spaces. In the kitchen and hallways, light wells (skylights) deliver a column of natural light from above. At night and on cloudy days, the homeowners employ low-wattage lamps and LEDs to supplement the natural light.
Because they have so many large window openings to maximize daylighting, and since glass is not a good insulator, the homeowners use thick, double-honeycomb window shades at night, to hold in heat from the wood-burning stove during the winter. These type of shades can increase the the R-value of the window, depending on the cellular structure inside the shades. In conjunction with double-paned windows, this can increase the energy efficiency of the the window by as much as 65%.
Outside, they taught us about Vermiculture, or Worm Composting. All of these homeowners utilize worm composting, which basically uses Red Wigglers (a specific kind of species for this), in a bed of shredded newspaper, and some soil. They keep it moist, using irrigation water from their rain-collection cistern. They collect all of their food waste (coffee grounds, carrot tops, cirtus rinds – you name it) and add it to the compost. You can even shred glossy magazines, bills, and junk mail and add to the mix. The worms eat this over time, digest it, and their nutrient-rich waste makes the most fertile soil for growing. They also filter the worm compost, to collect the liquid which is a highly-concentrated, nutrient-rich, powerful and organic fertilizer. And, because they recycle all glass, metal and plastic, these families virtually have no trash or waste going to landfills, and do not even have a trash collection service to their homes.
Originally a Mongolian nomadic home, this 12-sided structure was originally “designed” out of necessity to easily fold out the walls, add animal furs to the “walls” to repel high winter winds, add the conical roof, and viola! Instant house.
So while I don’t subscribe to the fact that a 12-sided structure is a wise thing to do THESE days, architecturally or constructability-wise, it does make for an amazing interior space. The light inside was intense and beautiful. The wood structure seemed seamless and added a warmth to the space. However, their furniture was positioned around the perimeter of the room, making for an awkward residual space and for a seemingly large room, did not accommodate many people – standing room only. The piercing light coming in from the skylight above was so strong the homeowners had to later add a UV fabric over it and replace the faded fabrics on all their furniture and rugs.
The couple that lived in the yurt was the only family to have OUTdoor plumbing. Yes, you read correctly. The outhouse was located about 50 yards from the yurt, just inside the woods. The small outhouse had “Rules for Use” written on the sidewall of the doorless “toilet” which included scooping a coffee mug-full of sand and covering your business when you are done. It seemed to work much like a human litter box. It was pretty odd using it, and got down-right embarrassing when another tour participant walked up to the litter box while I was still on it. I am all for sustainable living, and the yurt was cool, but outdoor plumbing is a bit too primitive for me and day-to-day life.
THE STRAWBALE HOUSE
With it’s huge window openings, minimalist interior, all bright-white stucco walls, cast concrete roof tiles, and beautifully-crafted interior components, the strawbale house was my favorite of the tour.
The exterior walls of this home were constructed in a long process: Steel reinforcement bars are welded to a base plate. Strawbales are continuously stacked, threaded onto the re-bar. The bales are then covered with chicken wire and “woven” to secure the bales both vertically and horizontally. At the top of the wall, threaded rods are welded to the re-bar tip, threaded through a continuous steel plate, and secured with a nut. The nuts are tightened and the bales are fully-compressed. A full, 3-layer stucco system is applied to both the interior and exterior, in total creating about a 16 inch-thick wall.
This home was so beautiful, but my concerns grew about mold, fire, and insects – after all, this is Alabama, where much of the year is spent with super-high humidity. So I posed the question to Daryl and the homeowner, and was quickly reassured all openings were completely and expertly sealed. Of course, as architects, we have the basic understanding that moisture will find its way inside, regardless, so we should always provide a way for it to dry or escape. I was told the risk of fire is a common myth about strawbale homes, as stucco acts as a fire-retardant much like gypsum board. And they did not address possible insect infestation (I was wondering if there was a straw-eating insect that could plague the home, much like termites effect wood homes).
This home is completely off the power utility grid. Lit only by daylight in the day and low-wattage lamps and LEDs by night, the solar panels beside their garden, deliver 2.5kW of photovoltaic electricity, stored in 12 batteries in the cellar. Also in the cellar, is a homemade walk-in refrigerator with super-insulated walls and door, with a solar-powered compressor. Upstairs, the stunning stucco walls reflect sunlight around the handmade stairs and wooden elements. Their kitchen refrigerator is run by propane. They do not have an active heating or cooling system, but instead rely on passive strategies: cross-ventilation in the summer and indirect thermal mass in the winter.
I would highly recommend the Solar Home Tour for any environmental enthusiast, designer, engineer, or homeowner. This inspirational tour reminded me that sustainable design can create interesting spatial experiences as well as be functional and environmentally responsible.
For more information or to register for an upcoming Solar Home Tour, contact the Blount County Chamber of Commerce.
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When: Saturday, July 3, 2010 from 7pm-11pm
How Much: FREE!
MINT gallery is proud to host an amazing group exhibit featuring art inspired by our beloved country. Come out and salute the flag, have a PBR, and be proud to be an American. Each artist created a piece about their feelings and views on our great democratic republic. Come to the show! It’s fun, it’s free and It’s your civic duty. Support the arts.
Featuring work created by some of America’s finest citizens: Tindel and Michi, Sam Parker, Stephanie Dowda and John Paul Floyd, Brandon Crawford, Bethany Collins, Teresa Bramlette Reeves, Ashley Anderson, Jessica Scott Felder, Mike Germon,Brandi Supra, Erin Bassett, Jim O’Donnell, Chris Walter, Katy Malone, Andrew Cho, InKyong Chun, Katie Coleman, James McConnell, Paul Rodecker, Claire Paul, Bean Summer, Baxter Crane, Preston Snyder, Jessica Orlowski, Don Robson, Travis Smith, Andrea Sanders, Jimmy Alvarez, Marcy Starz, Kelly O’Brien, Beau Torres, Edward Smucgyz, Edie Gonzales, Nikki Grote, Jessica Miller, Mike Devine, Egg Tooth, Ben Goldman and many many more.]]>
We had the pleasure of meeting and reviewing some of the work of graphic designer Erin Rabbitt. She is a young designer with a strong point of view that is unique and individual, but still holds a retro/vintage pop art vibe. Erin currently lives in Raleigh, NC where she owns conejocouture.com and designs everything from wedding invitations, to logos, circulars, and websites. Erin has an uncanning ability to bring whatever brand she is designing for to life with vivid imagery and a sense of humor. Erin grew up in Tampa Florida and started her design education at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL however, she decided to transfer to North Carolina State University (NC State) for a more prestigeous design program. During her run at NC State and after Rabbitt became a student of the world traveling around taking in amazing images and life in Austrailia, New Zealand, Thailand, and across the US.
Erin Rabbit’s company Conejocouture’s name is derived from a little word play with her last name and work ethic. “Conejo is Spanish for Rabbit. Growing up in Tampa I was heavily influenced by the Cuban community…that and it just goes so well with couture right! Couture is about designing with the client in mind and making something that fits them like a sparkly dress or tailored blazer.” We expect to see a lot from this designer in the future. Rabbitt understands that graphic design is about finding a balance between yourself as an artist and your client. Erin also takes her time to build a rapport with her clients to ensure gorgeous results. Conejocouture sets the mood for many couples special day with her really cool wedding invitations. Erin talks to the bride and groom about their life, how and where they met, and what kind of people they are to come up with ideas for their design. Erin enjoys being part of the couples special day because it’s the first thing the guests receive to get them excited about what is to come.
Q: When did you start designing?
A: I feel like I have been designing and making things ever since I can remember. I used to go to work with my Dad and fiddle with his Apple “Lisa” and the original Mac paint program. Technically I have been doing graphic design since 1999.
Q: What was your first design?
A: Thinking back to school and my first projects the one that comes to mind was a typography research project and poster design on the font Interstate by Tobias Frere-Jones.
Q: What makes your designs unique?
A: My approach starts by researching the subject matter. I am always striving to come up with a smart and appropriate solution. I feel knowing as much as you can about the subject or client is essential. Whenever possible my work has an underlying story or idea that might not be obvious on first glance but presents itself to those who choose to take a closer look.
Q: What are some things that inspire you?
A: Pretty much everything! Travel, nature, graffiti, food, friends, music, magazines, and fashion, you name it.
Q: What was the last book you read?
A: What Is the What by Dave Eggers. A must read for all designers is The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd!
Q: What is easiest for you when it comes to design?
A: Concepting and vector illustration.
Q: What is your favorite color? What color story describes you and why?
A: My favorite color is Orange with Pantone Warm Gray 8 coming in at a close second. Put the two together and that is my story: Warm bright and muddy.
Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I have over 40 KidRobot Dunnies. I am trying to quit! Works of art on mini rabbit forms how could I not collect them.
Q: Tell me about one of the most stressful times in your design career?
A: I once lost all my work right before a deadline in a computer glitch. I stayed up all night recreating it for the deadline.
Q: Most exciting?
A: Using the programs for the first time was so exciting. Finally getting what was in my head out!
Q: Describe an evolution in your work from your first project to today?
A: My technical skills have been fine-tuned. I understand the importance of style sheets, file organization etc… its only when you start doing big projects that you realize doing it right the first time will save you hours later.
Q: Do you have any Graphic Design Role Models?
A: Shepard Fairey has great concepts and a gorilla marketing style I totally admire.
Q: What is the best moment of the day?
A: Morning coffee in the sunshine.
Q: What kind of music to you listen to at the moment?
A: I can’t get enough of The Kills.
Q: Do you read design magazines?
A: I read Juxtapose and National Geographic.
Q: Where do you get your news from?
A: Mostly NPR and BBC.
Q: Do you have any pets?
A: Yes I have the most awesome dog ever! 5lb apricot toy poodle boy named Ludwig.
Q: Where do you work on projects?
A: I prefer coffee shops or the library.
Q: Do you discuss projects with other designers?
A: Yes. I am always bouncing ideas of other people designers and non-designers alike. Feedback only makes my work better.
Q: What advise do you have for young aspiring designers?
A: Get a good foundation in many art mediums and art history before you start clicking your mouse.
Q: What are your favorite hardware/software programs to use? Mac hardware of course.
A: Illustrator and Indesign software.
I see you do a lot of wedding invitations…tell me about your process…I talk to the bride and groom about their life and how they met etc where the wedding will be and the general ideas they have. Then I work up an idea or a few ideas get their feedback and go from there.
Do you enjoy being a part of the couples special day? I do. Ha! The invitations set the theme for the day. It’s the first thing the guests receive to get them excited about what is to come.
Conejo Couture – http://www.conejocouture.com/
Let us know what you think about Erin’s designs below.
So, what happened to that design legacy when it came to London’s 2012 Summer Olympics logo?
Back in July of 2003, several cities were vying to become the host city of the 2012 Summer Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) narrowed the field to London, Madrid, Paris, New York, and Moscow, and by March 2005, had visited and reviewed them based on very specific criteria set by the IOC. That July, the IOC announced London and Paris were neck-and-neck, but London was ultimately selected.
As London celebrated the announcement, they also immediately created an Olympic Committee to begin program and project management of this large endeavor. One of the first tasks, was branding and logo design. Designed by Wolff Olins, the first logo was revealed in June 2007. It consists of the numbers 2-0 and 1-2 with the classic 5-ring Olympics symbol within the zero. The numbers are stylized, jagged, brightly colored and graffiti-like.
The intent of the logo, was to engage young people, while creating a brand that was easily flexible to adapt similar logos for Olympic sponsors, such as Adidas, Lloyds Banking Group, and British Airways. And ultimately, the logo would be plastered on t-shirts, hats, bags, souvenirs, athletic gear, etc to bring in revenue to the U.K.
When the logo was first released, there was public outrage about the sheer ugliness of it. According to Wikipedia, early reactions to the logo in the U.K. was largely negative: “more than 80% of votes gave the logo the lowest possible rating.” Many have complained it looks like a swastika. Others say it resembles Lisa Simpson engaged in a sexual act.
The controversy didn’t stop there. A segment of animated footage that appeared on the Summer Olympics website reportedly triggered seizures in a small number of people with photosensitive epilepsy. Shortly after the controversy, the video was removed from the website. The London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, said the company who designed the film should not be paid for what he called a “catastrophic mistake.”
Alice Rawsthorn of The New York Times and a Londoner herself, writes, “Blessed with so much talent, London has no excuse” not to produce creative and innovative graphics for these Olympic Games. She goes on to say the organizers have “already squandered their opportunity to commission great architecture by replacing some of the original designs, except Zaha Hadid’s aquatic center, with inferior ones…But it isn’t too late to make the [logo] design much, much better, and they could start by dumping that dodgy typeface.”
Jan Moore, of The Sun, wrote that the Olympic organizers say the design will grow on us. Her reply: “so does foot fungus.”
All in all London has paid out over ₤400,000 (approximately $615,000) for this controversial logo design. Is this appropriate? Is this the best or the worst logo you’ve ever seen? Will Londoners and people worldwide eventually like the logo? Should the Olympics just be about the sports and athletes and not so much about the logo? These are the questions I asked myself, and now you.
Personally, when I first saw the logo, with its garish colors and odd arrangement, I didn’t immediately recognize that it said “2012.” The loudness of the shapes prevented me from even understanding what it was. When I finally realized that there were numbers, I thought perhaps there was a kindergarten design competition for the logo – surely, London got this for free. It just looked so unrefined, not well-thought out, and well, dated. It looked like something out of ’80′s music video. Or perhaps that 1960s Batman and Robin series, when Batman is attacking evildoers, and “POW!” shoots across the screen.
One thing is for sure, publicity over the logo and the Olympic Games has certainly stirred opinions worldwide. In my opinion the logo could have been much, much simpler and still appealed to the younger generation, exemplified good sportsmanship, and met sponsors’ needs. If designers in Europe are out of good ideas, there’s no hope for the rest of us!
The New York Times (article by Alice Rawsthorn)
2012 London Olympics (official website)]]>
Creig B. Hoskins was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, a town in the Mississippi Delta. Throughout his childhood, he loved to draw and sketch. When Creig was in high school, his parents allowed him to live with his uncle in Michigan to be more educationally challenged. Since his uncle worked for General Motors, Creig assumed he’d go on to college to become an automobile designer for GM. As fate would have it, GM entered a downturn, and Creig returned to Mississippi, where he graduated high school and was accepted into Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture to begin his career of designing buildings instead of cars.
After graduation from MSU in 1985, Creig relocated to Birmingham, Alabama where he was recruited by a prestigious firm now-named Giattina Aycock Architecture Studio (GA). As he took on more responsibility and obtained professional licensure, Creig proved to be vital to the firm family and was named an Associate Partner in 1995. His continued success as a designer, project manager, and role model helped him earn the MSU Alumni of the Year award in 2000. By 2005, he was made Senior Vice-President, the first African-American to be named a managing principal and owner in an Alabama majority-owned architectural firm.
As Senior Vice-President, Creig had the opportunity to design a variety of commercial and residential projects. He led the firm’s involvement in designing multi-unit elderly housing for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Through this work, he became an expert in designing accessible spaces and passionate about building high-quality and cost-effective spaces. In the past 5 years alone, he has designed and managed 18 HUD-funded projects across the southeast, ranging from new construction to renovations, all totaling over $75M. He was a member of the project team for Homewood Middle School (180,000sf, $23M), the nation’s first LEED Silver-certified middle school in 2003. As project architect and principal in charge, Creig was instrumental in the design of George Washington Carver High School for Health Professions, Engineering and Technology (304,000sf; $43M), which included 96 classrooms, clinical and nursing laboratories, a Disney-inspired animation studio, a television broadcasting area, fine arts auditorium, and cosmetology laboratory. From designing rock displays for the Birmingham Children’s Zoo to multi-million dollar schools, civic and office buildings, Creig’s diverse design career has spanned nearly 3 decades. And he’s not done yet.
Despite the nationwide economy and the declining construction industry, in 2009 Creig decided to step down as Senior Vice-President and Principal of GA, to create his own firm called HOSKINS Architecture. The decision was difficult, but one he doesn’t regret. He left GA with the support of his fellow partners, as well as the blessing of founding partner, and Creig’s mentor, Joe Giattina. Creig truly values his years of experience, contributions, and investment in GA, which in turn gave him the tools needed to create his own company.
Not only does Creig strive to further the profession by creating innovative designs, he firmly believes in improving the community as well. Creig is an active member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and served as the Southern Region Vice-President for 8 years until 2009. He is a founding member of the Birmingham chapter of NOMA, where he served as President for three 2-year terms and was the Treasurer for 6 years. He sat on the MSU Architectural Advisory Board from 1997-2000 and 2005-2009 and currently he serves on the Executive Board of Girls Inc., the Children’s Aid Society Foundation Board, and the City of Birmingham Design Review Committee. Creig also created and continues to fund an annual scholarship to MSU’s College of Architecture, Art +Design, for students from the Mississippi Delta Region.
Currently, HOSKINS Architecture is providing design services for Children’s Health System and the Birmingham City School system, and has been selected for the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex’s Multipurpose Facility design team, led by Populous (formerly HOK Sport). The office has five employees and will soon be expanding from 400sf to 1,800sf.
Q: What do you like the most and least about being an architect?
Everything is always new and challenging. No two problems are the same. What I like the least is when I can’t convince an Owner to see the value in quality design.
Q: What project(s) are you most proud of?
One that solves three basic criteria: client, quality, and community. Birmingham Children’s Zoo ($8.8M), Gateway Family & Child Services Campus ($3.5M), George Washington Carver High School ($43M), and Children’s Hospital Data Center & Parking Deck ($16M) are some of the projects I’m most proud of.
Q: Would you have liked for your children to follow in your footsteps and become an architect?
I have always wanted them to be what they want to be. My son LaDarius spent a lot of time with me in the office while growing up. At one time, he thought he wanted to be an architect, but later changed his mind. He is now a commercial diver. My daughter, Jasmine, grew up drawing everything in the third dimension. She attends the University of Pennsylvania and will graduate next year with degrees in Psychology and Spanish.
Q: What was your motivation to leave Giattina Aycock after decades of being a managing partner and part owner of that firm, and during a slump in the economy? Any regrets?
Timing, and the desire to create a sustainable firm; something that seems to elude many minority firms. No regrets.
Q: What in your opinion is the economic forecast of the construction industry in the coming years?
Up. There’s nowhere to go but up! I know it’s slow, but we will soon be back where we were in our glory days. History has shown when there is a decline, there will be an upturn as well.
Q: What responsibility do you think architects and designers have to their community?
Every project undertaken should enhance the community and design profession in some form. Does it positively impact and foster growth in the community? Does it provide sustainable jobs or does it displace people? Every project should strive to do what’s right for the community.
Q: What do you think students should know, who are considering architecture as their career?
It takes time; a lifetime. A license in architecture and 5-10 years experience means you are just beginning. Architecture is a profession developed and fine-tuned with time. I’m still learning after 25 years.
Q: What advice do you have for designers in this economy that are struggling to find jobs?
Be patient. Learn while you are in between jobs. Never stop taking opportunities to learn. Also, remember money isn’t everything. You want to find a place that will invest in you. Look at the big picture: Is there room for me to grow? Where do I want to be in 5, 10, 20 years? These are the questions you have to ask yourself.
Q: What is the last movie you watched?
Bright Star- a romantic drama based on the life of 19th Century poet, John Keats, who tragically died at age 25. It was a good movie.
Q: What do you enjoy in your spare time?
Q: Did you watch the Oscars this year?
No, but I wanted Precious to win an award, so I was pleased and surprised to hear Mo’Nique won for her role as Best Supporting Actress.
Photo of Mr. Hoskins: The Birmingham News/Joe Songer
Photo of rock display at Birmingham Zoo: GA Studio/Lewis Kennedy
Mississippi State University College of Architecture, Art + Design
National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)
Submit your design projects for ADAC’s 2010 Southeast Designer and Architect of the Year competition. This esteemed competition is open to interior designers, interior design firms and architects from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
The competition will be judged by a panel comprised of Industry and Educational Professionals as well as editors from Veranda Magazine. The panel will review all submission blind coded. Winners will be notified when the judging is completed.
By popular demand, the ADAC Southeast Designer and Architect of the Year Competition has retained their new categories in order to provide exposure for a greater number of design industry professionals working with many different project parameters.
Residential Category, Best Overall
Residential Room Categories:
Best Residential Architect, Best Overall
Contract Category, Best Overall
Submissions must include return mailing information with FEDEX return ship labels. If complete return information is not provided, they will be held in the ADAC Office for 60 days prior to disposal.
WE’VE EXTENDED THE DEADLINE FOR THE COMPETITION! Materials much be received in the ADAC Management Office by no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 9, 2010. For more information, please call: 404-231-1720 or click here to download a submission form. (PDF)
* You will need the Adobe reader to view the PDFs on this page. Download it for free here.
All entries should be directed to:
2010 Southeast Designer of the Year Competition
c/o Ms. Sarah Dobbs
ADAC Management and Leasing Office
349 Peachtree Hills Avenue NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30305
Featured on NBC’s Today show and in Wired, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, Gazelle is a company with a green mission to first try to reuse electronics and as a last resort, recycle them. You simply go to their website, enter your gadget and search. After you answer a few question about its condition, they instantly offer you a quote. If you accept, they send you a pre-paid box to send in the goods. Once they receive it, they pay you via Paypal, Amazon.com gift card, or you may donate it to charity. And if your item is worthless (doesn’t work, damaged, etc) they will recycle it for you at no cost. It’s a win-win situation!
According to their website, someone in Kentucky just received $116 for their Blackberry. And a guy in Ohio just got $206 for their HTC Sprint Hero. All items get a cash offer. They also accept GPS devices, video games, PDAs, video cameras, digital cameras, and movies. Even my ipod from 2001 was worth $6 and some old Wii games are worth about 10 bucks each.
So, clean out your closets and empty that box under the bed or that plastic tote in the closet for some extra cash. Thanks to Gazelle, spring cleaning just got interesting!]]>
Recently on a road trip out west, I found myself in Denver, Colorado. Historically known as a gold-rush town of the 1850s and for the towering Rocky Mountains, Denver is now making its mark in the art and culture world.
Alone on this road trip, I walked through the city and observed. The people are very active and the downtown area is alive with movement. The 16th Street Mall, designed by architect I.M. Pei, is a mile-long pedestrian street that connects the Civic Plaza to Union Station via the trendy “LoDo” (lower downtown) district. This mall, cutting right through the heart of the downtown business district, creates a dynamic place to walk, skateboard, bicycle, eat, shop, or just sit and observe.
The streets are pristine. Flowering plants and lush trees line the brick-paved streets. There are musicians – harpists, guitarists. There are Green Peace folks trying to get the word out about genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in American food. People are catching the free (and on-time) shuttle. I walked the mall down one side, past Union Station and to the South Platte River, turned around and walked up the other side and took the bus back to the majestic capitol building.
Home of Colorado’s Legislature, the capitol building in Denver is breathtaking. It’s grandeur is matched only by the U.S. capitol building in D.C., from which it’s 1890 design gained inspiration. The building is composed of Colorado white granite and the large bell-shaped dome is plated with 24-karat gold.
Past the Civic plazas and Greek Amphitheatre lined with Doric columns and marble sculptures, I find the arts district: The Colorado History Museum, The Children’s Museum of Denver, the controversial Denver Public Library (designed by architect Michael Graves), the Museum of Contemporary Art, and most notably, the Denver Art Museum.
The Denver Art Museum has been in the news recently due to the opening of the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, designed by German architect Daniel Libeskind. The sharp, angular mass of titanium panels (9,000 to be exact) towered over me as I walked under the enormous point that cantilevers over the street, seemingly daring the adjacent building to touch it. The 146,000sf building with 55,000sf of display space opened in fall of 2006, so I inquired about the construction team’s presence. Apparently there was a leak.
While I understand the draw of the worldwide visionary’s work, I can’t help but view this Denver Art Museum addition as a mechanical parasite feeding off the original building. In fact, as I rounded the corner after my encounter with the giant point, I caught a glimpse of the original building, now eclipsed by this sci-fi appendage.
As I walked towards the original part of the museum and away from Libeskind’s ogre, a much more innovative and endearing building emerged – the North Building. Designed in the 1970s by Italian-architect Gio Ponti (1891-1979), the North Building (as it’s now known) was a true work of art.
Though Ponti is popular in Europe, he isn’t well-known in America, primarily because the Denver Art Museum remains his only public building on this continent. Ponti was a true artist who not only designed buildings, but also flatware, furniture, theater costumes, and even designed the interior of an ocean liner.
Approaching the building, images of the Tower of London are conjured, as this castle-like fortress looms over a landscaped moat below. The towers are surfaced with a combination of flat and pyramid-shaped tiles, which reflect sunlight and create interesting patterns. Over 1 million of these tiles were manufactured by Corning Glass Works for the towers, and it took workers two years to set them by hand. At the building’s ‘crown,’ shapes are cut out to frame certain views of Denver’s many landmarks.
The meticulously-punched openings in the façade orchestrate light patterns inside, which remind me of LeCorbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, where interiorly, the light becomes the architecture, rather than the building’s form.
As a functional museum, the layout is straightforward and easy to navigate (which, as a navigationally-challenged person, is very important to me – - having been lost and turned around in Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin for hours, which is another story altogether…).
The collections and exhibits include pre-Columbian, African, Asian, Oceanic, European and American work, as well as one of the largest collections of American Indian art and artifacts. And of course, modern art, housed largely in the new Frederic C. Hamilton Building.
All in all, Denver took me by surprise. I’ve been to the “Gateway to the West” before, but that was about 18 years ago for a school competition. And then, I only visited the U.S. Mint and the capitol building. The cleanliness of the city, the friendliness of the people, and its new and growing arts and entertainment district make the Mile-High City a must-see for designers, art-enthusiasts or folks who just love to experience a lively downtown area.
Denver Art Museum, Scala Publishers, 2006.
Mile High City
Denver Art Museum]]>