Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The design philosophy of Norman Foster

Joe Cianciotto looks to Norman Foster as a major influence along with Frank Lloyd Wright and Ieoh Ming Pei. Today, he will discuss some of the renowned British architect’s design philosophies that also prove to be influential in his own view about design and architecture, as well as his own view about creativity.

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Let us look briefly at the life of Norman Foster’s. He was born in 1935 in Manchester, as the only child of a working class family. His interest in architecture started when he was a teenager, influenced by Le Corbusier, one of the fathers of modern architecture. Although he had to leave school at 16, he still pursued architecture by enrolling in Manchester University School of Architecture at the age of 21. He found success and eventually found Foster+Partners at the age of 32.

Design philosophy

Joe Cianciotto considers Norman Foster’s pioneering efforts with structural expressionism and ecological design as evidence of his design philosophy, which involves integration, regeneration, adaptability, flexibility, technology, and ecology. He once described architecture as “a balancing act of integrating and somehow responding to all the needs of a project,” in which he meant the “...material and measurable; as well as the spiritual and intangible,…” He also believes that a good architect should have “an open mind, energy, an appetite for hard work, a willingness to explore new solutions and push boundaries.”

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“Architecture is an expression of values.”

Norman Foster’s most famous philosophy is best expressed through his project with the Reichstage in Berlin, says Joe Cianciotto. The good thing about this philosophy is how architecture was able to communicate a city’s past and present character. Symbolism, if need be, is responsible to bring a design idea into a sketch of how a concept might be achieved. The iconic glass dome of the Reichstag represents that moment when the German people found their reunification as well as their place in parliament, as depicted by Norman Foster.

Monday, July 19, 2021

The classic, unmatched appeal of the movie theater


A lot of establishment have started to reopen and that includes movie theaters. While it still might be a natural reaction for people to stay away and watch films at home instead from now on, this shouldn’t be the case. Theaters will always be the best places to experience movies. Joe Cianciotto.

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Below are three reasons people should still consider watching the films they've been waiting for in theaters. Joe Cianciotto.

Almost zero spoilers

Since films released in movie theaters generally come out the earliest, there is a low chance that people who watch in theaters will have to suffer through spoilers spewed by inconsiderate people online. Considering the many people who think they're important enough to post plot twists of highly anticipated films on social media, the only way to get around them is to watch in cinemas. Waiting for movies to be released online increases the risk of a film being spoiled. Joe Cianciotto.

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Unmatched atmosphere

While today's laptops and home theaters have amazing resolution (perhaps even better than movie theater projectors), they still pale in comparison to theaters when atmosphere is involved. A horror film isn't as scary on a small screen, and hard-hitting, edge-of-your-seat action movie isn't quite as thrilling as it would be on a giant screen. Joe Cianciotto.

Viewer reactions

True movie buffs would appreciate a viewing experience surrounded by fans, even if those fans are strangers. It's fantastic seeing other people would react to epic moments, especially with films that bring along a massive fandom. Some films simply bring people together. And that’s a big deal.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

A look at the works of Ieoh Ming Pei


It has been two years since legendary Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei passed away at the age of 102. Known for his signature style of sharp edges and geometries, I.M. Pei had an illustrious career spanning over six decades of modern architecture. We now look at some of his iconic works. Joe Cianciotto

The Louvre Pyramid, Paris, France, 1990

One of the most recognizable works of I.M.Pei was a nod to the classic pyramid form. His idea was to complement the existing edifices with a sharp and edgy presence in their midst. It was said that Pei demanded a method of glass production that is responsible for the clear appearance. The design was initially derided by critics, until it opened to the public on 14 October 1988, when opposition to the pyramid softened. Joe Cianciotto

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Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, China, 1990

I.M.Pei designed this building like stacks of triangles similar to LEGO bricks. His design process centered on the idea that the building should reflect ‘the aspirations of the Chinese people.’ Also, the client requested for a distinctive regional headquarters with a prominent banking hall and 130,000 square meters of office space. The result was a successful marriage of structural integrity and aesthetics, which also takes advantage of the surrounding views while being able to withstand the harshest typhoons. Joe Cianciotto

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John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, USA, 1979

Ieoh Ming Pei was chosen by former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy to design a library and a museum dedicated to the memory of her husband, former US President John F. Kennedy. The approved design was built on a 10-acre park which overlooks the sea and the city of Boston. Beach grass was planted on the site to recall Kennedy’s love of the sea. Joe Cianciotto

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Building explorations on Mars


As the designs for future Martian dwellings are already taking shape, the technology to build these structures are also being considered. As a matter of fact, research for new materials and building processes took off much earlier, if not simultaneous with the design concepts. Let’s take a look at some of the building technology that will be used to establish these future Martian settlements. Joe Cianciotto

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Martian bricks

The study for this material is based on a NASA-formulated simulation of Martian soil. Researchers found that the soil’s components have minuscule amounts of iron oxide that could bind the soil when put under pressure to form a brick. Experiments are still continuing, however, but the results and information look promising already - leading to a possibility of manufacturing the same bricks on Mars. Joe Cianciotto

                                                                                    3D-Printing technology

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Two possible materials are being explored for 3D-printing, one is Martian ice which are now being simulated here on Earth. The team for the Mars Ice House project have developed a way to convert subsurface Martian ice as a building material to be printed into structures along environments cold enough to turn them into solid ice. The other material is called regolith, a combination of loose rocks, soil, and dust on the red planet’s surface. Semi-autonomous robots will be tasked to build these structures before the first humans arrive. Joe Cianciotto

Environment simulation

There are two known initiatives planning to simulate the environment on Mars. First is the Swiss Martian Garden, which is constructed near Basel, by Swiss researchers, where they will test a CLUPI (Close-Up Imager) camera that will be sent to Mars to better understand the conditions on the red planet. The second initiative is being set up in a desert outside Dubai, UAE, which is called the Mars Science City project. The project’s aim is to establish a human colony on Mars within 100 years. Joe Cianciotto

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Some of the most highly recommended comic books in recent times


With the colossal box office success of the MCU and the redemption of the DCEU with “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” film adaptations of graphic novels and comic books are at its peak. However, there are thousands of stories out there that have never made the transition from print to big screen.

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Today, let’s take a look at some of the best comic books in recent times. Joe Cianciotto.

Astonishing X-Men: By Whedon & Cassaday: Omnibus

The most notable X-Men stories have always been cornerstones of pop culture. “Astonishing X-Men: By Whedon & Cassaday: Omnibus” is one such example. This comic was a certified hit, winning major awards in the process.

New Avengers: Volume 1: Breakout

After the destruction of the Avengers, Captain America puts together a new team. With astounding character development and a series of engaging subplots, “New Avengers: Volume 1: Breakout” is worth any comic book fan’s time. Joe Cianciotto.

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Tetris: The Games People Play

Very different from the other titles on this list, “Tetris: The Games People Play” plays on a more serious tone, examining pixelated nostalgia, politics, and philosophy. Written by Box Brown, he looks at Cold War bureaucracy and parasitic businessmen with the aim of an emotional release. Joe Cianciotto.

Batman: The Long Halloween

One of the most notable storylines of the Caped Crusader in recent memory, “Batman: The Long Halloween” takes place at the start of Batman being Batman. In it, he tries to catch a serial killer named Holiday who is right smack in the middle of a killing spree. Joe Cianciotto.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Some must-watch war classics

Sometimes, you might find it tough to decide what’s available to watch online. Perhaps next time, you would like to take a fair look at some of the most popular war films to ever hit the silver screen. Here are some suggestions. Joe Cianciotto.

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The Dirty Dozen (1967)

If you want to have an idea of what an all-star cast looked like in the 60s, you should not miss out on watching The Dirty Dozen. Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Telly Savalas, and Donald Sutherland, among many others, star in a movie about a band of military convicts sent on a mission behind enemy lines, in the lead-up to D-Day. It’s very interesting to observe how various character flaws go against each other to come up with something of consequence. Joe Cianciotto.

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The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The effect of war is unpredictable, and there is no film that goes against generalizations and stereotypes like The Bridge on the River Kwai. This film centers on the harrowing experience of war imprisonment, coping with changes in the absence of hope, and finding meaning in whatever is available to you in your immediate environment. An army of weakened and impaired soldiers find themselves tasked to pour their hearts out in building a bridge, which symbolizes the greatest achievement they have ever made, only for this to be destroyed in the end. It’s interesting to see how war changes the perspective of those in captivity. Joe Cianciotto.

Platoon (1986)

Charlie Sheen stars in this blockbuster that is set in the Vietnam War. His character, private Chris Taylor, gets the reality check of his life as he sets out with a desire to serve his country, only to discover the moral compromises that being in the service seems to require at the ground level. Critics have lauded the film for capturing the struggles of war, as close to reality as it happened in Vietnam. The film’s multiple Oscars include Best Picture and Best Director. Joe Cianciotto.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Thoughts on architecture and Building Information Modeling


By now, many people may have already heard about BIM or Building Information Modeling. It is a 3D approach in designing buildings, which also incorporates 4D (time) and 5D (costs). This is currently the standard software in some architectural offices around the world. Except that there are still a few who still employ the 2D CAD or Computer Aided Drafting. In this article, architecture expert and design enthusiast Joe Cianciotto shares some of his insights in the melding of architecture and BIM.

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Complicated forms and supertall structures dominate today's landscape. It is increasingly becoming more prudent and wiser for architects and engineers to take advantage of BIM. Also, the industry itself is becoming more collaborative. Architects and engineers coordinate even more closely, pointing out conflicts, even at the schematic phase.

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According to Joe Cianciotto, architects, at the onset, exercise some liberty in the design stage. As the design develops, the structural elements and utilities come into consideration. A good designer takes note of these things early on. If incorporated in the design process, a BIM model helps the design team detect conflicts with other trades. For example, structural elements such as columns and beams were found to be at odds with a design feature. Sometimes, even the ductwork of air conditioning systems has a great chance to affect the ceiling height of a hallway below.

Two BIM software currently used worldwide are ArchiCad, developed by Graphisoft, and Autodesk Revit, currently offered by Autodesk, the developer of AutoCAD. Both software differ slightly in their interface. If you are an architect more familiar with SketchUp, it is also highly encouraged to learn these two leading BIM software, especially when planning to take up more involvement in the architectural practice.