Monday, January 30, 2006


Every once and a while you come across a concept so dense that it makes your brain hurt. This is just the sensation caused by trying to delve into the meaning of Olivo Barbieri's aerial photography.

His photos intentionally distort and blur famous buildings and landscapes to make them appear like an artificial model. In other words, he makes pseudo-simulacra - images that appear to be representations of artificial copies but are in fact representations of reality. In a sense, he is intentionally disguising the representational relationship of his work to the "original" - in this case the building or area he is photographing. It is all very "meta" and could have you discussing the various layers of meaning for hours.

But his work is also just fun to look at, as you can't believe that the subjects of his photos aren't actually balsa wood models. Check out some reality bending examples of Barbieri's work here. A few of my favorites are below.

Via Metropolis.

The Coliseum, Rome

Santa Monica Pier, CA

Wrigley Field Renovation

Daily Dose has some photos of the bleacher renovation taking place at Wrigley Field. The stadium is adding seats to the upper portion of the bleachers and creating a cantilevered walkway around the exterior. The bleacher overhaul is part of a larger renovation plan that includes adding a restaurant and additional retail and parking space to the stadium.

A seemingly very intentional side effect of the new bleacher design is that the added seating will likely obstruct the view of some of the famous rooftops that overlook Wrigley field. While this seems like a slight to the lucky Cubs fans who like to take in the game from their dramatic viewpoints, Dose explains that many of those rooftops are actually owned by businesses that charge people to rent the space on gamedays.

Apparently the matter was a heated debate in Chicago, which probably only matters to the downtrodden but dedicated portion of the population that confess to being Cubs fans.

Friday, January 27, 2006

PRADE Snapshot: The de Young

PRADE got its first up-close look at San Francisco's new de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park from the Swiss architect team of Herzog & de Meuron.

Unfortunately, museums aren't free in San Fran like they are in DC, so I didn't get a chance to pop in to take a look around the interior. But here are a few snapshots of the much discussed rust -colored exterior skin.

A full review of the building to come soon when I have more time to explore.

Access to Architecture

Tropolism tipped me off to a great FREE architectural resource site called Galinsky. The site offers photos, descriptions, and visitor information about some of the worlds most renowned modern buildings.

Amateur enthusiasts submit the content for each building, including the photos. You can search by architect or region, and even download Travel Packs for certain cities to help you explore rich architectural destinations. With 200 buildings and counting, Galinsky offers an unpretentious and accessible way to learn more about the great buildings of the world.

If you want to submit to the site, you can find more information here. There are still countless buildings to cover, so grab a camera and get started now.

A photo from the Galinsky entry for the Portcullis House in London.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Lego My Lego

The newest issue of Wired features everyone's favorite plastic toy on the cover.

The story is all about how Lego turned to some uber-geeky Lego fans for advice on their new line of programmable robotics toys. And get this, they paid them in Legos.

PRADE was already eyeing a resurgence of the Lego brand back in August, and it seems like the company continues to think of new ways to refresh its products and image.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Meter Pops

PRADE has long been a fan of the creative work of DC-based artist Mark Jennings. And the mind behind the Storker campaign is at it again.

His latest work includes this bright display on the streets of DC known as Meter Pops. Jennings uses colored tape to transform parking meters into Willy Wonka-like creations.

You can check out all his latest work on his site. The pieces all show a sense of humor and level of innovation that is truly refreshing. A few of my favorites are shown below.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Taint That Funny

Hilarious clip from the Daily Show, available to watch on Crooks and Liars. I love that this is the same show that gets Senators and even Presidents as guests. Taint life grand?


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Another Day, Another Museum

Today's NY Times reviews the latest addition to the Manhattan art scene, the new home of the New Museum of Contemporary Art designed by the Tokyo architecture firm Sanaa.

An image of the aluminum-clad building in its new LES location.

The critic, Nicolai Ouroussoff, does a great job of explaining how the design itself speaks volumes about the attitude of the New Museum towards the direction of contemporary art. For example, the entire street level facade will be transparent, inviting passers by to engage in the cultural dialogue that the art presents. Even the loading dock will be visible from the street, demystifying the process of transporting and installing new art.

But what most impressed me was how the shape of the mismatched volumes of each level allows for natural skylights on every floor - introducing an ever shifting blend of natural and artificial light to every gallery space.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2007.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


The swimming events for the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be housed in one of the oddest Olympic venues I've ever seen . . . the Watercube.

Image via Strucurae.

PTW Architects were selected to build the National Swimming Center for their unusual design that features a structure composed of bubble-shaped cells that indicate the aquatic nature of the building. The semi-translucent panels appear to give off a blue glow when the building is illuminated.

This will definitely be an interesting addition to the Olympic competition, and might actually get me tuning into the swimming events this time around just to see their whimsical surroundings.

You can find a ton of pictures related to the Watercube

Image via PTW Architects.

A close-up of one of the bubble-shaped panels. Image via Strucurae.

Light Bloch

I'm a little late to the game with images of Steven Holl's new expansion for the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, known as the Bloch Building.

Early images show that the new wing is significantly more dull during the day than at night, when it exudes a striking, luminous glow similar to Holl's design for the Higgins Hall Center Section at the Pratt Institute. In fact, the exterior cladding makes it look somewhat trailer-like in the light of day. The interior light also appears to have a somewhat muted intensity during the day, which is unfortunate because I love the idea of a museum that allows light to permeate its own skin. I don't foresee a trip to Kansas City in my future, but I look forward to photos of the completed project.

Photos via Daily Dose.

Bloch exterior at night is a brilliant light box.

Is that a moving POD outside the museum, or the new extension?

The muted glow of the interior during the day.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Heyri Art Valley

Subtopia has a thought-provoking entry on possible future uses for the expansive area along the border between North and South Korea known as the DMZ.

Years of military stand off between the two countries has inadvertently created one of the most serene and well protected nature preserves in Asia. As a peaceful resolution to the Korean conflict becomes more realistic, people from all sides are speculating about how the DMZ might be utilized in the future.

One possible model has already been offered by the Heyri Art Village in Paju, along the southern border of the DMZ. A community of artists, writers, architects and musicians, Heyri's goal is to foster a cultural community in which residents collaborate to create their own environment for producing and exhibiting their artwork. The community of several hundred artists will eventually feature museums, galleries, theaters, bookstores, and workshops. Each home will also be a place of cultural exchange of some form, with the goal that the entire community will contribute to and participate in the cultural dialogue.

Presently, Heyri already has over 370 citizens and is continuing to grow. But this isn't your 1960's hippie collective - the buildings are explicitly modern in their design, the community will be wired throughout for high speed data, and the master plan includes the latest in ecodesign techniques to conserve the surrounding environment. The community also does not hide its commercial interests, as all of Heyri's artists are able to make their work available for sale to visitors.

Whether Heyri will succeed in creating a cultural capital from the ground up remains to be seen. However, it certainly demonstrates the potential for North and South Korea to attempt visionary, daring new projects along this political frontier.

An outdoor performance at Heyri

An example of one of the live/work artist spaces.

The Hanhyanglim Gallery serves as gallery space, an art shop, and a cafe.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Seed 2.0

Plans are underway to build an impenetrable fortress in the Norwegian Arctic to safeguard our agricultural future. The doomsday seed bank will hold 2 million seeds of all of the world's known varieties of crops behind meter thick concrete walls, two air locks and blast proof doors built into a froze sandstone mountain.

The Fort Knox of the plant world is a UN approved plan for safeguarding the genetic results of 10,000 years of human agriculture. Apparently the idea has been around since the 1980's, but recent global events (threat of nuclear war, global warming, etc.) have prompted the need for a more secure seed depository then the ones already in existence. Those supporting the plan believe that the Green Thumb Fortress would essentially "last forever." And all for the relatively bargain price of $3 million. For those of you keeping tabs . . .

Protecting every crop species known to man for eternity= $3,000,000
Cost of the war in Iraq= $2,600,000,000,000
Realizing humans are not an intelligent lifeform = priceless

Read more about this story here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Better Than Whole Foods

Daily Dose has an interesting post about the redevelopment of a food market in Barcelona. The new Mercat de Santa Caterina features a vibrantly tiled, undulating roof that looks just as striking from the inside as from the top in my opinion.

I love the way the support for the roof is clearly visible from both above and below. Apparently, the project also included two underground levels for loading/unloading, parking, and waste - making the project's penetrate the site in the same way that the roof's metal structural supports pierce through the roof itself.

Image via

Barcelona is probably my favorite city in the Western world, and it seems like this market fits right in with Barcelona's renowned whimsical style. Not surprising since the design is from Barcelona's own

Bong Vodka

I recently sampled a new spirit on the market called Bong Vodka. If the name isn't eye catching enough for you, then the bottle surely will be. Shaped like a popular glass smoking device (for tobacco only), the bottle is an attractive addition to anyone's liquor cabinet.

Conceived as an exercise in branding as much as a new spirit launch, Bong Spirit brand vodka uses the iconic shape of the bottle as a symbol of this vodka's Dutch origins. The taste is surprisingly smooth, and will not give you the munchies or induce any coughing.

But let's be honest, anyone that buys this is purely in it for the bottle. I'm sure the MacGyver smokers of the world will even find a way to modify it for alternative purposes once they've emptied it making delicious Hemp-tinis.