Kristin Dispenza

Kristin Dispenza

Kristin graduated from The Ohio State University in 1988 with a B.S. in architecture and a minor in English literature. Afterward, she moved to Seattle, Washington, and began to work as a freelance design journalist, having regular assignments with Seattle’s Daily Journal of Commerce.

After returning to Ohio in 1995, her freelance activities expanded to include writing for trade publications and websites, as well as other forms of electronic media. In 2011, Kristin became the managing editor for

Kristin has been a features writer for since January 2010. Some of her articles include:

The Uncertain Fate of Big Box Stores

Fri, Apr 20, 2012

The recent news that Best Buy would be closing 50 stores renewed concerns about how this kind of large, empty space could be reused and sparked discussion about the fate of big box retail in general.

What strikes fear in the hearts of those concerned by urban sprawl more than the ubiquitous big box store? Quite possibly, those same big boxes standing empty (case in point: the exhibit “Dark Stores” by photographer Brian Ulrich). "Dark Stores" is the final piece of Ulrich’s three-part series Copia, an extensive study of American consumerism that was shown recently at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and it portrays a haunting array of now-empty retail venues.

Celebrating Cultural Influences on Design: the Made in USA – German Architects in New York Exhibition

Wed, Apr 04, 2012

Architecture in New York City draws upon the talents of many international designers, and an exhibition at the German Consulate General held in March celebrated the unique contributions of German architects practicing in New York.

On March 1 – March 23, 2012, the German Consulate General in New York featured an exhibition called Made in USA – German Architects in New York. The exhibition featured the work of seven architects from Germany who are now based in New York. When it comes to design culture, there is a is a long history of exchange and interrelationship between the United States and Germany, and, as a curatorial statement for the exhibition states, “it is within this historic trajectory that this exhibition wants to invite a fresh look on contemporary practice in New York City.”

STV Group Renovates Hoboken’s Historic Ferry Terminal

Mon, Apr 09, 2012

STV Group renovates a 1907 transportation hub in Hoboken, New Jersey, and puts ferry service back in place after an almost 45-year hiatus.

For a century, railroads dominated trade and travel in the United States. Train station architecture developed along with the rail industry itself, and in the early 1900s, every major city was building an ornate hub to call its own. Perhaps the most iconic – and one of the most short-lived – stations was New York City’s Pennsylvania Station. Built in 1910, much of the original Beaux Arts structure, which covered almost 7 acres, was demolished in 1963 to make way for Madison Square Garden and the rest of Penn Plaza. The demolition of the above-ground elements of NYC's Penn Station galvanized preservationists to save many historic stations.

Energy-Saving Strategies You Can See

Fri, Mar 23, 2012

It’s no fun to spend money on something you can’t see. Therefore, some green homebuilders are giving you a peek inside their homes’ walls via full-scale "deconstructed" models in order to showcase their energy-saving features.

Homebuilders are finding that green homes, which save owners money in addition to helping the environment, are a powerful differentiator in today’s real estate market. However, buyers may be more motivated to invest in goods that they can actually see. Companies such as Central New York builder Miller Homes and Utah’s Garbett Homes are using deconstructed models to show prospective buyers – as well as building industry professionals and members of the general public – actual sustainable products located inside their buildings’ walls. Miller Homes was awarded a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to implement high-performance building practices, with a focus on tightening the building envelope, and then partnered with Dow Building Solutions and CDH Energy to build an educational, deconstructed duplex. Garbett Homes has built several deconstructed models to reach out to their target market, first-time home buyers. Referring to a Garbett deconstructed model, Rene Oehlerking, director of marketing at Garbett Homes, says, “Nothing is mocked up. We built the home and we stripped the walls, basically taking parts of the home and peeling them back so people can see the actual application. Everything in our deconstruct is a standard feature.”

Case Study: Zaha Hadid Architects’ Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel, Part 1

Tue, Mar 06, 2012

This first in a five-part series on Glasgow’s Riverside Museum offers an overview of Zaha Hadid Architects' first major public commission in the United Kingdom. Follow Buildipedia throughout the month of March to read in-depth coverage of the building's various design and engineering systems.

Glasgow, Scotland, was built on the River Clyde. Having access to the Atlantic Ocean facilitated Glasgow’s ability to trade and, eventually, fostered the growth of a shipbuilding industry. This aspect of the area’s history is commemorated in a Transport and Technology Collection that is now housed in the Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. The £74 million ($120 million) museum opened in June of 2011 and is Hadid’s first major public commission to open in the United Kingdom.

Brooks + Scarpa Architects: Warehouse Design for the 21st Century

Mon, Feb 27, 2012

A traditional industrial building type is adapted to create a modern, sustainable facility in Mexico.

The Mexican government recently developed a new Research and Technology Innovation Park (Parque de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica or PIIT) in Monterrey.  An automotive company that manufactures chassis for heavy trucks and pickups selected a 100,000 sq. ft. parcel within the research park as the site of its new building – a research lab, office, and industrial testing facility. Brooks + Scarpa Architects, based in Los Angeles, designed the structure.

Gensler’s Renovation of the Julia Ideson Building in Houston

Mon, Feb 20, 2012

A Spanish Renaissance building in Houston gets a much needed restoration and is finally completed, according to the architect’s original intent, more than 80 years after the first stone was laid.

The Julia Ideson Building has been a Houston landmark since it opened in 1926. Designed by architect Ralph Adams Cram of the Boston firm Cram and Ferguson, the Spanish Renaissance structure served as the Houston Central Library until 1976 and has long been regarded as one of the city’s most prominent public buildings. The library’s first director, Julia Ideson, was also regarded as one of Houston’s most prominent citizens.

Stained Glass: Painting The Light

Mon, Jan 30, 2012

In many historic homes, especially ones that date from the Victorian era, one of the most eye-catching design features is a stained glass window. These classic elements recapture the elegance and luxury of days gone by, but the beauty of stained glass is no longer restricted to older homes. Many manufacturers nationwide offer an extensive range of modern stained glass products to suit the needs of any homeowner.

The term “stained glass” actually refers to glass that has been painted and then fired; traditional works are constructed from pieces of cut glass that are set into lead channeling to form a pattern. Most of what we see today is really art glass, although some artisans still practice traditional methods.

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