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Solving a design problem: light and form at play

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Catching the sun as it plays across the building’s surface, the undulating facade system for the University of Houston’s Health and Biomedical Sciences Building is an innovative design solution that responds to challenges in topography and program.

The risk of flooding on the low-lying site disallowed a basement, shifting all mechanical space to the top of the building. Likewise, the building program’s secure research spaces – typically located below grade – are also at the top level. Since both the mechanicals and research program require windowless spaces, the upper half of the building facade has few openings.

Recognizing the potentially overwhelming proportion of a solid facade, the design team used reflection ...[more]

When is preservation historical amnesia?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

An interesting article from yesterday’s NY Times discusses a new exhibit/critique of preservation by Koolhaas in NY. Nicolai Ouroussoff writes that in the exhibition Mr. Koolhaas “paints a picture of an army of well-meaning but clueless preservationists who, in their zeal to protect the world’s architectural legacies, end up debasing them by creating tasteful scenery for docile consumers while airbrushing out the most difficult chapters of history. The result is a new form of historical amnesia, one that, perversely, only further alienates us from the past.” I would argue this is a fair criticism of styled big-box architecture and other developer driven “luxury” destinations including hotels and shopping malls…

But what ...[more]

Shepley hosts student design competition event

Friday, 6 May 2011

How many units of affordable housing can you fit into Shepley Bulfinch’s Boston office? The answer is 429, in a manner of speaking – or at least that was the case on the evening of May 4.

That’s when Shepley hosted the 11th annual Greater Boston Affordable Housing Development Competition awards ceremony. Sponsors of the design competition include the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), and the Boston Society of Architects.
Eight teams of graduate students in architecture, planning, business, and law, who ...[more]

The sketch model as iterative design tool

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Has 3D modeling superseded the physical sketch model as a design tool? No, and here’s why.

At an internal “Design Open Studio” a few weeks ago, the conversation focused on the continued relevance of physical sketch models as an exploratory tool in the design process. While the proliferation of 3D modeling programs may suggest that the days of building sketch models are over, the fact is that hands-on model making is still a vital tool for us to iteratively explore design ideas in three dimensions. Unlike even the most flexible modeling software, which is ...[more]

Consider the corridor: lessons from architectural history

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

As architects, we often take the seemingly banal decisions that we make for granted. However, many of the devices that we employ carry social and historical implications that have had a profound effect on the way humans function. Corridors were not an inevitability. Often overlooked in the grand sweep of architectural history, they have had an enormous impact on the way we live, work, and communicate.

Despite their ubiquity today, corridors did not exist until the late 17th century, and were only first widely used in the 19th century. Before their ...[more]

Affordable housing development in greater Boston

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Shepley Bulfinch is proud to be a sponsor of the 11th Annual Greater Boston Affordable Housing Develop-ment Competition.

The competition is designed to focus a new generation of thinkers on the availability and affordability of housing in Massachusetts and the role of housing density in addressing issues of sprawl and community vitality.

This year’s competition matches graduate students from two or more schools with faculty advisors, development professionals, and mentors in architecture and finance. Over a two-month period, each team will produce an affordable housing development plan tailored to a specific site.

Several ...[more]

Design notes: the Shepley Bulfinch blue journal

Friday, 18 February 2011

As a long-standing tradition Shepley Bulfinch reaches out to our clients in an annual mailing. For years, this took the form of a signed card or letter, accompanied in recent years by a commemorative poster. What started as a holiday gesture has become an important statement that exemplifies our core values.

Like every project our annual mailer starts with a written strategy: a design brief. This year we drew on our annual internal staff survey for inspiration. Within a section of the survey on differentiation a few key words and ...[more]

Landscape/urbanism: what’s our take?

Friday, 4 February 2011

I recently read this article and thought we should have a clear position on the developing debate in the planning sphere.  Are we New Urbanists?  Are we Landscape Urbanists?  How do we define our attitude toward development and landscape as a firm?  How do campuses relate to these issues?

Boston Globe article: A fight grows in urban planning

Let the debate begin…..

- Luke Voiland