Animal Rights Group PETA Awards Aqua Tower for Bird-Friendly Design

from News by Vanilla Hustler

Studio Gang Architects has earned a PETA Proggy award for using bird-deflecting elements in the 823 ft-Aqua Tower residential building and hotel that’s currently under construction in Chicago.

Aqua Tower by Studio Gang Architects

Click above image to enlarge
The Aqua Tower in Chicago, IL by Studio Gang Architects

Update: House of Arts and Culture Beirut Competition

from News by Vanilla Hustler

In April 2009, Bustler reported that Milan-based practice Teknoarch had won the international competition for the new House of Arts and Culture in Beirut, Lebanon. Representatives of Teknoarch are in Lebanon this week to meet with their local partners and to present the most recent developments of their project to the Minister of Culture.

The competition organizers also updated us that all entered projects have been uploaded and are now visible on their website

These are the three competition-winning projects:

House of Arts and Culture Beirut

Jamie Oliver Trying to Get America’s Fattest City to Slim Down

from Slashfood by Hanna Raskin

Filed under: Television/Film, Southern States

West Virginia pepperoni rolls. Photo: transplanted mountaineer/Flickr

Residents of Huntington, W. Va. — already smarting from Hollywood’s recent depictions of their home state — are taking fresh offense at celebrity chef Jamie Oliver‘s contention that nobody in their Appalachian college town “ever had food from scratch in their life.”

Oliver made the comments — in which he also called America the unhealthiest nation in the world — while speaking with a Sky News reporter about his latest reality show. He’s spending three months in Huntingtontrying to make over the town’s dietary habits in the as-yet-untitled show.

The show, slated to air on ABC, will feature such segments as the Naked Chef powwowing with school officials about cafeteria menus and parsing budgets with grocery-store managers. When it comes to municipal slimdowns, Oliver’s on a bit of a roll: A similar program he produced in the U.K. persuaded then-prime minister Tony Blair to allocate an additional $453 million for healthy school lunches.

Oliver chose to focus his American campaign on Huntington, which has the ignominious distinction of being the nation’s “fattest city.” How fat is Huntington? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of its residents are obese, one-quarter of Huntingtonites suffer from heart disease, and a near-majority of the town’s over-65 set are toothless.

Continue reading Jamie Oliver Trying to Get America’s Fattest City to Slim Down

Population growth driving climate change, poverty: experts

from Earth News, Earth Science, Energy Technology, Environment News

nyc-new-york-street-crowd-sm.jpgParis (AFP) Sept 21, 2009 – Unchecked population growth is speeding climate change, damaging life-nurturing ecosystems and dooming many countries to poverty, experts concluded in a conference report released Monday.

Alternative Energy Machine May Double World Food Production

from Earth News, Earth Science, Energy Technology, Environment News

jatropha-curcas-biofuel-sm.jpgSan Diego CA (SPX) Sep 22, 2009 – The single largest year over year potential increase in the industrial age of food production may occur with the use of a San Diego based alternative energy company’s machinery.

Ozone Layer Depletion Levelling Off

from Earth News, Earth Science, Energy Technology, Environment News

ozone-hole-sept-09-sm.jpgParis, France (ESA) Sep 22, 2009 – By merging more than a decade of atmospheric data from European satellites, scientists have compiled a homogeneous long-term ozone record that allows them to monitor total ozone trends on a global scale – and the findings look promising.

UN’s Billion Tree Campaign Hits its Seven Billion Goal Target

from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The global public’s desire to see action on climate change was clearly spotlighted today with the announcement that the Billion Tree Campaign has reached 7 billion trees-one for every person on the planet.

Gazprom Wins Final Approval to Build Disputed Petersburg Tower

from CTBUH Global News

Gazprom Wins Final Approval to Build Disputed Petersburg Tower Sept 22, St. Petersburg

OAO Gazprom, Russia’s natural-gas exporter, won final approval from the city of St. Petersburg to build what may become Europe’s tallest skyscraper, overcoming objections from local residents and UNESCO. St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko awarded Gazprom exemptions to the former czarist capital’s zoning laws that allow for the 400-meter (1,300-foot) Okhta Center project to proceed…more.

Cap and Trade 101: How a “Cap” Ensures Carbon Reductions

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

Now that Cap and Trade is a possibility, there is a rising clamor for a carbon tax instead, from conservative thinktanks like the American Enterprise Institute, outlets like The Washington Times and even directly fromExxon itself. Yet when first introduced by Al Gore, in 1993, the carbon tax was anathema to the fossil industry. What makes a carbon tax now less of a threat than Cap and Trade? It’s the Cap.

The key difference between Cap and Trade and a carbon tax is that a carbon tax controls just the cost of pollution – only a cap limits the quantity.

The “Cap” limits emissions by fossil companies

The Cap in Cap and Trade is the only mechanism for ensuring a total limit to carbon emissions. A Cap is set for the fossil industries as a whole. The Cap on emissions at point-of-entry sources (oil pipelines, coal fields and coal-fired power stations) in the current Cap and Trade bill limits total carbon.

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Don’t Look Down: 10 Peculiarly Precarious Modern Buildings

from CTBUH Global News

Don’t Look Down: 10 Peculiarly Precarious Modern Buildings Sept 22

The world’s worst skyscraper disaster is still fresh in our minds, and every year sees a new calamity in our global obsession with building story after story, higher and higher. You would think that all architects would be careful to make their buildings look as stable as mountains. You’d be wrong. Thanks to modern building materials and behind-the-scenes architectural wizardry, the new field of precarious-looking urban architecture is on the rise…more.

Curry Stone Design Prize Finalists Announced

from Feed

image Bold and transformative public works in Medellin, Colombia that revitalized the poorest areas of the city in just four years; the reclamation of traditional craftsmanship with a modern twist in rural Bangladesh; and a vibrant global grassroots movement committed to carbon-neutral living, are this year�s finalists for the Curry Stone Design Prize administered byArchitecture for Humanity.

UN Talks to Include Plan to Reduce Carbon Emissions of Aviation Industry

from Green Options by Beth Graddon-Hodgson

The aviation industry and the emissions it produces were never included in the Kyoto Protocol that was established 12 years ago, but today at the New York meeting of the UN, there’s a new proposition that will require the international industry to reduce their carbon footprint. Currently, international aviation contributes 2% of the world’s carbon emissions, and this new agreement is set to rectify the industry’s initial omission from the Protocol.

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Water withdrawal and consumption: the big gap

from Random graphic of the day: UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library by UNEP/GRID-Arendal <>

Water withdrawal and consumption: the big gapFreshwater use by continents is partly based on several socio-economic development factors, including population, physiographic, and climatic characteristics. Analysis indicates that: – Annual global freshwater withdrawal has grown from 3,790 km3 (of which consumption accounted for 2,070 km3 or 61%) in 1995, to 4,430 km3 (of which consumption accounted for 2,304 km3 or 52%) in 2000 (Shiklomanov, 1999). – In 2000, about 57% of the world’s freshwater withdrawal, and 70% of its consumption, took place in Asia, where the world’s major irrigated lands are located (UNESCO, 1999). – In the future, annual global water withdrawal is expected to grow by about 10-12% every 10 years, reaching approximately 5,240 km3 (or an increase of 1.38 times since 1995) by 2025. Water consumption is expected to grow at a slower rate of 1.33 times (UNESCO, 1999). – In the coming decades, the most intensive rate of water withdrawal is expected to occur in Africa and South America (increasing by 1.5-1.6 times), while the least will take place in Europe and North America (1.2 times) (Harrison and Pearce, 2001; Shiklomanov, 1999; UNESCO, 1999).

Coal Ditched for Natural Gas at US Power Plants

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

Apparently many modern electric power plants that are coal powered can also use natural gas. So, when the price of natural gas came down in the US, more power stations switched to the cheaper fuel.

The result has been a sharp drop in coal use. Unused coal is piling up at power plants. About 175 million tons of coal inventory is now backed up. Inventory is up 26% over last year.

This national backlog is now beginning to back up into coal fields too. Wyoming has a 6.5% drop in demand from utilities, especially in the Midwest. For the first time in 15 years, coal production has been slowed in Wyoming. And the future looks grim too.

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Electromagnetic Car Drives Us Crazy And Nowhere

from Gizmodo Australia by Mark Wilson

If we lived in a world so sweet that anything artists could draft was instantly a functional product, you still couldn’t drive the “Peugeot” ELA. (more…)

76m Long Hybrid Airship Will Spy Over Afghanistan In 2011

from Gizmodo Australia by Danny Allen

Sometimes it feels like I’m already living in the future. The US Army’s Space and Missile defence command plans to have an unmanned spy-ship capable of loitering at 6000 metres (for up to three weeks) ready to deploy by mid-2011.(more…)

New “Wave Energy” Fund in UK

from Green Options by Zachary Shahan

A new energy fund in the UK is looking to improve wave and tidal energy technologies and help put them into use. The new Marine Renewables Proving Fund contains about $36 million worth of new grants.

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Top Technology Companies are Green and Clean on Newsweek’s Green Rankings

from Green Options by Beth Graddon-Hodgson

Not all clean tech companies need to produce more environmentally friendly products in order to make a difference; some are leaders in the industry because quite simply, they change their procedures in order to ensure that their practices reduce their carbon footprint. In this week’s Newsweek “Green Rankings” were released, and many of those higher up on the list include leaders in technology that are trying to make sure that their environmental impact is just that much cleaner.

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This Is What The Burj Dubai Would Look Like In Manhattan

from Gizmodo Australia by Adam Frucci

What would the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, look like if it was in NYC? It would look something like this. Holy shit, this thing is huge. And here’s some more perspective for you. (more…)

The Greenest Big Companies in America

from Green Options by Kelli Peterson

This week Newsweek’s cover story promotes an exclusive ranking of “The Greenest Big Companies in America”. This is an important moment in time. In 2006, Vanity Fair was among a few high profile publications to introduce entire annual issues to the green movement and their readership was reported to have been the lowest of the yearly issues.

Fast forward three years and six months later, the introduction of Newsweek’s list marks an important moment in time. Joining the annually released lists of the Best 100 Companies to Work For (Fortune), the 100 Best Global Brands (BusinessWeek) and The Largest 500 Companies (Fortune), the (presumably) annual list represents a palpable and permanent shift in business ethics and operations. Transparency is a leading value of those engaged in the green movement but it is still interesting to read that 70% of the companies participating voluntarily provided the data necessary to compile the list (otherwise utilizing publicly available information).

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The Transparent Removal Chain

from InfraNet Lab by Neeraj Bhatia

[Overflowing Trash Cans in Toronto, Summer 2009 via blogto][Overflowing Trash Cans in Toronto, Summer 2009 via blogto]

While the garbage workers strike in Toronto this past year promoted less tourism and flourishing populations offruit flies, it also made most Torontonians aware of the amount of garbage they produce in a short amount of time. Researchers at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab are embarking on a research project to make people conscious of where their trash goes once it is deposited into a trashcan. Three thousand pieces of common garbage will tagged with GPS technology and monitored. This ‘trash transparency’ is hoped to provide a understanding of how far garbage travels, costs and patterns of disposal, and the various stages of disposal.

Trash Track aims to make the removal chain more transparent. We hope that the project will promote behavioral change and encourage people to make more sustainable decisions about what they consume and how it affects the world around them.

[How Trash Track works, via SENSEable City Lab][How Trash Track works, via SENSEable City Lab]

[The tracking device/ detective, via SENSEable City Lab][The tracking device/ detective, via SENSEable City Lab]

While general awareness exists of the supply chain, the removal chain of objects is largely concealed. Trash Track will be able to monitor the removal chain in real time, using New York and Seattle as test cities. Trash track has the ability to critically examine the removal process and spark new discussion on sustainable disposal infrastructures. In a city like Toronto, tracking trash would make residents aware of the massive distance and energy required to dispose of trash. In 2006, Toronto diverted 696,327 tonnes of waste to Michigan Landfills. This works out to approximately 150 truckloads of waste travelling a minimum of 300 kilometers to be disposed. Statistics from the City of Toronto reveal that if 70% diversion through recycling could be achieved (up from approximately 40%), GHG emissions would be reduced by 25 percent (or equivalent to 100,000 cars), save 4.5 million trees per year, and save 900 kWh of energy annually.

[Following an Aluminum Can in Seattle via SENSEable City Lab][Following an Aluminum Can in Seattle via SENSEable City Lab]

[Following Soap Containers in New York, via SENSEable City Lab][Following Soap Containers in New York, via SENSEable City Lab]

You can view Trash Track in realtime online, or in exhibitions at the Architectural League in New York and theSeattle Public Library.

Hexagonal Hydropolis

from BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh

[Image: From Sietch Nevada by Matsys; renderings by Nenad Katic].

Andrew Kudless of Matsys recently proposed an extraordinarily beautiful desert city of semi-subterranean terraced geometries inspired by the novel Dune. For reasons unknown to me, Dune has come up at least once a week this summer, including most memorably during an epic, day-long visit with Bruno Tanant of Parisian landscape design firm TNPLUS – a visit that you will be reading about here on BLDGBLOG soon. For these reasons alone, I felt compelled to post about Matsys’s project.

The images are fantastic, and the project description hooked me right away:

Dune, he describes a planet that has undergone nearly complete desertification. Dune has been called the “first planetary ecology novel” and forecasts a dystopian world without water. The few remaining inhabitants have secluded themselves from their harsh environment in what could be called subterranean oasises. Far from idyllic, these havens, known as sietch, are essentially underground water storage banks. Water is wealth in this alternate reality. It is preciously conserved, rationed with strict authority, and secretly hidden and protected.The rest of the project combines an interest in drought hydropolitics in the U.S. southwest with the speculative architecture of “underground water banks.”

[Image: From Sietch Nevada by Matsys; renderings by Nenad Katic].

Continuing to quote at great length:

Accordingly, Kudliss suggests that “waterbanking” will become “the fundamental factor in future urban infrastructure in the American Southwest.”

In this context, I would unhesitatingly recommend Marc Reisner’s classic book Cadillac Desert – the first hydrological page-turner I’ve ever read – as well as James Lawrence Powell’s recent Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming, and the Future of Water in the West (which I reviewed for The Wilson Quarterly earlier this year). Those two books are ideal references for Matsys’s project, as they each supply countless examples of hubristic, quasi-imperial waterbanking projects – projects that might still be functioning today but that are doomed, the authors convincingly show, to eventual dehydration.

Powell, in particular, offers genuinely disturbing descriptions of the looming silt-deposits that have accumulated behind the dams of the American west, amongst often extraordinarily poetic overviews of these dams’ inevitable failure. “One day every trace of the dams and their reservoirs will be gone,” Powell writes, “a few exotic grains of concrete the only evidence of their one-time existence.”

[Image: Matsys’s Sietch Nevada as seen from above; renderings by Nenad Katic].

In any case, the proposal seen here is “an urban prototype,” we read, “that makes the storage, use, and collection of water essential to the form and performance of urban life.”

Check out the full project on Matsys’s own website – and, while you’re there, the entire project database is worth a spin.


from InfraNet Lab by Neeraj Bhatia

[A tailings pond is a toxic lake so dangerous that air cannon and scarecrows are used to deter wildlife. © Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon][A tailings pond is a toxic lake so dangerous that air cannon and scarecrows are used to deter wildlife. © Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon]

One of my favorite films from this year’s TIFF has to be Peter Mettler’s Petrolis. Mettler, who was the cinematographer for Edward Burtynsky’s Manufactured Landscapes, takes on a directorial role on Petropolis, which visually documents the Alberta Tar Sands. Given the massive scale of the project, the infrastructures, and the process, Mettler had few choices but to document the project from an aerial perspective.

[Water taken from the local watershed ends up in toxic lakes called tailings ponds. © Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon][Water taken from the local watershed ends up in toxic lakes called tailings ponds. © Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon]

[A giant earth mover transports earth mined at an open pit for processing to separate the bitumen. © Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon][A giant earth mover transports earth mined at an open pit for processing to separate the bitumen. © Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon]