December 20, 2013

Watch: New Lifestyles for Stone Hall

A niche along the new social corridor in the lower level of Stone Hall provides a fully wired study space as well as a comfortable place to relax. © Michael Moran/OTTO

Stone Hall is the first of Harvard's venerable Houses to undergo renovation as part of the House Renewal program. Recently, correspondent Colin Manning reported in the Harvard Gazette that students living at Stone Hall since work was completed last summer have "explored and utilized the new academic, social, and study spaces in creative ways." His article includes a video released by the university that describes the importance of reinvigorating Harvard Houses and provides a glimpse inside the pilot project. 
Watch the video

December 06, 2013

Pardon Me, May I Borrow Your Umbrella?

In a recent issue of the Journal of Architectural Education, Research Director Billie Faircloth asks a simple question: How is knowledge of the environment acquired?  

Excerpt from "Pardon Me, May I Borrow Your Umbrella?"

Journal of Architectural Education, Volume 67, Issue 2, 2013 

The fully considered response to "How is knowledge of the environment acquired?" is not one solely based on synthesis of data collected by a device—a weather station, temperature sensor, or suite of sensors. Nor is it one solely based on a methodology which compresses many years of weather data into one "typical" annual data set. The answer to this question requires us to engage the pursuit of a more thorough epistemic interrogation as it may be hypothesized that for some of us numerical values collected from the environment—irradiance, sky cover, temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, wind speed and wind direction—are a proxy for our lived-out bodily experiences of the environment. We hypothesize that the more we get to know the metrics of a particular micro or macro climate, the more we may advantageously inhabit it with our bodies and buildings. And this is precisely the hypothesis that should leave us wondering, "What if?"

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December 05, 2013

The Changing Shape of Dilworth Plaza

Many Philadelphians remember reform-minded mayor Richardson Dilworth, the namesake of Dilworth Plaza to the west of City Hall. But the layers of history that underlie this site begin much farther back, with the planning of the city by William Penn in 1683. Since then, it has been a public space under continual transformation—as a public park, a race course, a military campground, the locale of the nation's first urban water works, and starting in the late nineteenth century, the site of City Hall.  
William Penn's Plan for Philadelphia (1683) included a centrally located square, called Centre Square, for public buildings. The plan was crafted with surveyor Thomas Holme and used to advertise the city to prospective immigrants in Europe.

William Penn's Plan for Philadelphia (1683) shows a grid pattern of streets with five open squares, one in each quarter of the city and one in the center.
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