Architecture for Humanity

My heroes.

[Thanks to IIAD for creating this video that gives so much insight on their 2010 Pioneers in Design Award winner, Architecture for Humanity.]


Tulane City Center

Since Katrina there has been an influx of creative minds and generous donations to the city of New Orleans.  The Tulane School of Architecture has utilized the countries re-kindled love of their hometown to finance several design build projects.  With encouragement and support from the faculty, these projects are led and executed by students at both the graduate and undergraduate level.  Through the City Center and UrbanBuild programs, Tulane School of archtecture has created an impressive portfolio of built works and created a Design+Build culture that applicants and magazines are noticing.

Though the several completed houses are innovative and beautiful, I was particularly enthralled my past visit with the Hollygrove Growers Pavilion.  What started with a raised garden on an abandoned parking lot has developed into a beautiful market and a source of income for the surrounding neighborhood.  The farmers, typically professional during the week and volunteer on the weekend, have managed to produce an wide variety of veggies in the heart of New Orleans.  For only $25 market goers can fill their box or bag brought from home with a weeks worth of in-season, locally grown goods.  The pavilion (pictured above) was designed and built by Tulane architecture students.  Much more than a tool shed, the pavilion serves to educate the community on rain water collection and green design practices.  As of the end of 2009, the market was only open on Saturdays.  Judging by the demand, I’m expecting expanded hours soon!

4 potatos, 2 squash, six oranges, a head of lettuce... so many great local goodies!

happy girl with her veggies!

For hours, events, and location, visit the markets official website.

Ross Lovegrove

Ross Lovegrove is sui generis in the world of designers.  His idiosyncratic approach to product design is organically breathtaking– fluid in appearance, and revolutionary in composition.  He describes himself as “an evolutionary biologist, more than a designer.”  This quote coming from one of the few sources I could find information on this incredible innovator, in an interview with Design Boom.

The following video is his presentation for TED, (which we recently wrote about here at Innovate). It’s a fantastic talk, but don’t get too sidetracked by the fact that there is a lot of focus on chairs!  (It’s more about the design process and materials, rather than the object itself).

Two items conspicuously missing from his talk are his Alpine Capsule and Solar Trees:

The Alpine Capsule is an off-grid, sustainable, futuristic cabin, if you will. Created as “simply a way to place people in the extremes of nature and its wonders, whilst retaining the maximum of comfort…space technology not in space, but on earth.”¹ The Capsule is meant to be a sanctuary within nature,  transparent from the inside looking out, but reflective of its surroundings on the exterior.  Learn more about it here.

Street lamps are often a dull affair, and Lovegrove’s Solar Trees are a welcome aesthetic antidote to humdrum street appearance.  ” The Solar Trees communicate more than light… they communicate the trust of placing beautifully made, complex natural forms outside for the benefit of all of society”  Read further at

image via Lisa Town

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¹from interview featured in Clear magazine, issue 33

*Alpine Capsule images from (Design Magazine)

How Green is your Facebook?

facebook offices exterior

It’s no surprise that we use up quite a bit of energy, both physically and electronically, on our social networking!  Good thing the helpful leaders at Facebook have taken a stance and are helping ease the carbon footprint of our addiction with their new offices!  Their new digs located in Palo Alto owe their innovative design to Studio O+A Architects.



d.j. booth and skate park to keep the energy flowing



When the 700+ employees of Facebook were each questioned what they would like to see in their new offices, they all showed an unwavering desire to create a green environment.  The renovated warehouse is the first commercial project to be completed under Palo Alto’s 2008 green ordinance.  Starting with the laboratory shell of high-tech manufacturer Agilent Technologies, the design takes care to salvage several of the architectural features such as millwork, exposed ductwork and structure.  The building also features high-recycled content carpet and energy efficient light to keep them running late nights.  When the company efficiently combined the 10+ locations into one, they wanted to merge the 700 unique employees while allowing the departments to remain distinct.



this whiteboard surrounded conference room begs for creativity!



‘Neighborhoods’ were created within the sunlit open floor plan through partitions and well placed color. The bright color makes certainly keeps the work environment fun; or is it the dj decks, basketball court and skate park that keep everyone smiling?  or round the clock food service?  Either way, I feel better than ever about updating my status and taking the time to look through everyone’s weekend photos!



the space features an abundance of inviting areas to interact and collaborate








(photos courtesy of concepTrends)

Masdar, City of the Future

What two things come to mind when you hear the name United Arab Emirates?  Oil and Money. It’s well known that the UAE, a country smaller than the state of Virginia, have both of these commodities in spades.  The UAE is also one of the biggest producers of green house gas emissions in the world, so its rather surprising that they may soon become the world’s leader in clean, green living on a massive scale.


“Welcome to Masdar City – the world’s first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city.”  It’s a helluva tagline for one of the most ambitious projects (right up there with Branson’s Virgin Galactic) that I’ve ever heard of.  The planned metropolis, which is currently in phase 1 construction and headed by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, will cover 2.3 square miles within the capital city of Abu Dhabi, include a state-of-the-art university (Masdar Institute of Science and Technology), and house around 40,000 individuals.

Major highlights of the city are:  100% utilization of renewable energy, i.e. wind and solar power, recycled water (a must in this desert region), dew-catchers and rainwater harvesting, designated green spaces, zero-waste (all trash will be either composted or recycled in some fashion) and some very cool mass transit.  No cars will be allowed.  Instead, there will be “personal rapid transit”–electric “pods” that take individuals to and fro– and a Maglev train connected to the city of Abu Dhabi.

No cars, no waste, zero carbon emissions… Essentially every component of the city is aimed at being entirely green, renewable and sustainable.




If you’re intrigued, check out this video via Planet Green:

Sources:  Wikipedia, The Economist, Planet Green podcast and Masdar City website

KiosKiosk – Promoting Small Biz


In a cookie-cutter world of retail, the pioneering pop-up shop KiosKiosk is out to break the mold.

British designers Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway came up with the idea of KiosKiosk as a way to house the goods of blossoming designers on the cheap.  Prices for retail space tend to be rather high (sometimes outrageous) in major metropolitan areas such as London, where the sleek KiosKiosk was launched.

For two months this summer the little shop was placed in front of the London City Hall, with support from the Mayor of London and the London Sustainable Development Commission’s London Leaders program.  Offering rent-free space for individuals with creative products to sell, (such as art, fashion, ceramics)  it gives up-and-coming designers a “step up on the ladder to success”.

Not only is it adorable and quite stylish in and of itself, but there are a variety of different materials available to customize the exterior and interior to the liking of the inhabitant.


I’ll be on the lookout if this brilliant project takes wings and flies on over to U.S. shores!

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Fun website too!

The KiosKiosk is currently “on tour” in Nottingham, UK

Bilbao Jardín





The city of Bilbao, Spain became a house hold name associated with design after the completion of Frank Gehry’s innovative museum.  Since then, the local government has continued to support creative works that enhance the city.  In 2007 the city government announced BilbaoJardín, a competition to design gardens of up to 80 square meters (about 860 square feet) that were to be sprinkled throughout the urban landscape.  The first year of the competition yeilded 132 entrants, 27 of which have been constructed.  This year, the competition was reinstated.

Balmori Associates (one of the firms that helped develop the cities master plan in 2002) were able to exercise their familiarity with the needs and heartbeat of the city with the above garden design.  “The Garden That Climbs Stairs” was completed over the summer of 2009.  It is a surprsing and beautiful garden reminiscent of a lasting Goldsworthy work.

Below are several of the the other completed city works:

08 Reflejos de Bilbao 1Clean, geometric, and simple.  I want to go sketch on the bench at the center of this.

17 Paisaje en cadena 1I love the way this one lifts and bends- like you could pick it up at any point and take a peak underneath.

21 La llegada de la primavera 2Micheal Phelps post drinking the green kool-aide.

(Article information via Metropolis)