Phasing- Friend or Foe?

If you’re planning a nice dinner, would you ever go to the grocery store, buy appetizer ingredients, prepare the appetizer, clean up the kitchen, and then repeat the same dedicated steps for the main course and then the dessert? Probably not, since that process would involve three separate “mobilizations” and take much longer. No one…

The Curious Thing About Discovery

You know the scenario. A young child is more captivated by a discarded box than the gift once inside, thoughtfully purchased by a now disappointed adult. Oblivious to intent, the curious child sees more open-ended possibilities in the box.  Playing, at this age, is learning. As we understand more about how children learn, research suggests…

Hyperloop Station Part Three

This past September, we participated in a multidisciplinary design sprint named Build Earth Live to plan a series of hyperloop stations for the United Arab Emirates. Drawing from our earlier work on the Hyperloop station typology, we collaborated with HyperPoland, one of the teams we met at SpaceX’s Hyperloop Design Weekend last year. Working with team…

Hyperloop Station Part Two

We participated in SpaceX’s Hyperloop Design Weekend, held at Texas A&M University on January 29-30, 2016. As a selected finalist, we designed a prototype for a Hyperloop station. The ideas we presented during the weekend have appeared in podcasts and published in multiple articles. Our previous blog post described our underlying hypothesis that Hyperloop stations should…

The Hyperloop Station

We participated in SpaceX’s Hyperloop Design Weekend, which was held at Texas A&M University on January 29-30, 2016. As a selected finalist, we developed a prototype design for a Hyperloop station. We shared the design with over 180 teams who traveled from over 20 countries. Our hypothesis is that the ideal Hyperloop station should be…

Public Space at Urban Universities: Evolving student-centered space in existing buildings

Much of the average city’s infrastructure, including its transportation and information systems, is outdated, designed for “9–5” office workers or those in manufacturing and service industries. It is not suited to the needs of 21st-century higher education. College students’ schedules do not adhere to a typical workday. Students require breakout spaces and other gathering places…

Understanding Scope Creep: 7 Tips for Future Homeowners

We wrote here recently about “the construction trilemma,” which describes the three key variables of any construction project: quality, cost, and scope. You can’t touch one without impacting another. If the scope of a project increases—if the building grows in size, for instance—either the budget has to go up, or the quality has to go…

Beyond the Triple Bottom Line: Lessons From a Radical Social Venture

The best way to see a true cross-section of Chicago’s socio-economic structure is from the CTA Green Line, which bisects the city from its westernmost edge to its central core. Ride the train from Harlem/Lake to Ashland/63rd Street, and you’ll pass bungalows, townhouses, currency exchanges, active and abandoned industrial parks, landscape suppliers, doggy daycares, nightclubs,…

A School that Adapts to Its Students: Why adaptive architecture isn’t about high-tech, high-cost systems

There are many ways architecture can adapt to its environment: automation systems learn an occupant’s habits, moveable walls turn office spaces into event venues, and shades and solar arrays move to track the sun. But adaptability isn’t always—or ever, really—about technology. It is primarily about improving the occupant’s experience and purpose, which, though we may…

Reconciling the Budget

While acknowledging the Construction Trilemma, which declares that you can only have your hand on two of three dials – Scope, Quality, and Cost – while making decisions, you can still find yourself puzzling over how to reconcile a project’s budget with its program.  When you get to this over-the-budget stalemate, what can you do? Most construction professionals will immediately…

Orchard Willow Receives MCA Chairman’s Award

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) recognized its 2014 Chairman’s Award recipients on Oct. 1, 2014 at METALCON Tradeshow and Conference in Denver, Colorado. Award recipients were determined based on overall appearance, significance of metal in the project, innovative use of metal, and the role of metal in achieving project objectives. View all award recipients here!

Chicago’s First Transit Oriented Development

Situated 300 feet from the Blue Line train entrance and steps away from bus routes, 1611 West Division is dedicated to reducing traffic congestion and air pollution in its outreach to mass transit users, bicyclists and pedestrians. The evocative eleven-story apartment building made news this June by filling every unit soon after construction…

The Construction Trilemma

A trilemma is a difficult choice posed by three options.  It can be a choice among three favorable options, only two of which are possible at the same time.  The Construction Trilemma, which faces almost all institutions that build, involves three choices. These choices can be thought of as dials, where your hands can only be on two dials…

Designing Environments for Blended Learning

We like to say that an environment – for any building type – is not an innocent bystander.  The environment will either support your mission or frustrate it.  It won’t be neutral.  When applied to Blended Learning, the stakes are higher than normal because of the disproportionate scrutiny and demand for early results by those invested…

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