Monday, August 18, 2008

The History of Evil

Something tells me the history of fear didn't end quite like this...

Friday, August 15, 2008

'Old Stone House' Visitor Centre

I've reformatted the final video, so it's quite a bit different from the official version submitted for the design presentation. So at last, here is a compressed unofficial promotional video of the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site Proposed Visitor Centre:

The visitor centre is designed to be a LEED building (Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design), the first of its kind in Sault Ste. Marie. The LEED system rewards building design on a points system that rates bulidings as LEED bronze, silver, gold, to platinum. Buildings are rewarded for meeting 'green' qualifications like maximum parking spaces, number of bike racks, percentage of renewable materials, use of local materials, geothermal heating etc. LEED has been a debatable system of evaluation since its formation, but a very good intention. I won't get in to it here.

For Sault Ste. Marie, this is a great step towards cleaner buildings and a more energy-conscious community. The Soo is already moving towards the three primary renewable energy sources: hydro, wind, and soon a solar collection field, but we sorely lack efficient buildings, under a hazy plume of steel-plant emissions. Having these energy sources is the envy of many northern cities, international cities. It would truly be a great transformation for a northern steel town to be a 'green' city. Who knows, maybe it would actually attract people to want to live in the Soo, countering its horrendous youth drain. Maybe our neighbourly glow-in-the-dark Sudburians might move in.

Back to the animation, you enter into the main foyer, with skylight above, providing passive solar heating, enter the 1812 Gallery, a tribute to the history of the War of 1812 in the Sault area. The theatre, across from the gallery seats 50 people. Leaving the theatre, visitors enter the site to visit the Heritage buildings which will have existing displays, bannock baking, activities etc. Re-enter the visitor centre through the gift shop.

There is no green roof, but don't despair. The roof will harvest rainwater and internally service the building. Solar panels on the roof. The building uses as much wood as possible, the most efficient renewable material available.

Would love to hear your comments.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Architects Win Gold!?

According to a number of sources (mainly trusty old wikipedia, but also the book 'The Forgotten Olympic Art Competition' by Richard Stanton), there used to be an arts category to Olympic competitions up until the middle of the twentieth century. It included literature, music, painting, sculpture, town planning, and architecture! That's right, architecture used to be an Olympic event. Between 1912 and 1948, there were competitions in these artistic categories, with the possibility of winning Olympic gold, silver, and bronze. Imagine that! All of this, the vision of Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin who wanted to combine art and sport, and promote 'athletes' of mind and body. After two cancellations, the Olympics that included de Coubertin's proposal was held in Stockholm in 1912. So, for about 35 years, the competitions were reasonably successful. Eventually a report was made that criticized all the art contestants for being professionals, (and ratings may have been a factor here as well) but in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, the events were derailed.

I guess they would have graded the projects for artistic and technical merit, like in figure-skating for example. Here's an Olympic Gold project in architecture by Jan Wils who designed the 1928 Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam.

Some of the other winning designs are stadiums, pools, circuses for bull-fighting, and sport parks. The closest Olympian to home is John Russell Pope who has designed a number of buildings in Washington D.C. including the Jefferson Memorial and the National Archives as well as the Union Station in Richmond, VA. He won silver for the Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale University:

Since the Sydney games, architecture and town planning has advanced as a major help to economic growth, and the image of a nation. Sydney truly set the bar for a modern Olympic game, entertaining the idea of reviving the art events. It revitalized one of the dirtiest brown fields in the world, introduced sustainability to mainstream architecture, and celebrated landscape architecture as a centerpiece.

What an amazing change that would be to include those same categories in Olympic sports today. The games are becoming more and more specialized now, with athletes so focused on one task for four or more years. It seems a little obsessive compulsive (though still awe-inspiring) to do triple axle sow cows for eight years straight. I wonder if athletes who could compete in more than one event, sports and arts, would be revered as another level of Olympian? By now athletes must be considered as professionals so it could be high time to introduce professional artists back in the games! Maybe that's the key to Canada's success at summer games, where our Olympians already need day jobs for lack of government funding -- might as well do art or architecture for coin! And of course, it would take steroids right out of the picture...or would it?

Ermatinger Clergue Visitor Centre

Just completed the promotional video for the E-CNHS Visitor Centre. The deadline has shifted a little, so I still don't want to post the video until the formal viewing. In the meantime, here are some still images of the rendered model.

A bit of history of the buildings I've been modeling, from the City of Sault Ste. Marie website:

The Ermatinger•Clergue National Historic Site consists of two of the oldest stone buildings northwest of Toronto surrounded by period gardens. The first building, the Ermatinger Old Stone House, is restored to depict the domestic and professional life of Charles Oakes Ermatinger and other prominent residents and visitors of the House between 1808 and 1870 reflecting the nationally recognized historic aspects of the House. The second building, the Clergue Blockhouse, was relocated to the Site in 1996, and was the home of Francis Hector Clergue from 1894 - 1908.

Within the Ermatinger Old Stone House, staff and volunteers collect, preserve, research, house, exhibit and interpret artifacts that illustrate the 1808 - 1870 time period. The stories steeped in stone are presented through interpretive panels, interactive displays, and period rooms. In the attached Summer Kitchen Interpretive Centre, hands on demonstration and programming depict the daily life of the early 1800’s.

The Clergue Blockhouse is restored to the time when Francis Hector Clergue used the building as his residence and as the hub from which he directed his growing business empire (1894 – 1908). Interpretation of the Blockhouse, its link to the fur trade, the North West Company (1819) and the life of F. H. Clergue are presented through the use of interpretive panels, and interactive displays.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Roots of Breakdance

Just for fun:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ermatinger Old Stone House Light Study

A short teaser of the 2:25 minute video I just completed for the Ermatinger Old Stone House National Historic Site Proposed Visitor Centre Promotional Package. (Longest title ever, yeesh).

Video rendered in Sketchup, exported into Artlantis.