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Renzo Piano’s California Academy of Sciences

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Your eyes sweep across the panorama. Rolling hills are bursting with colorful wildflowers of vivid orange, yellow, and purple. A Bay Checkerspot butterfly dances by in the flickering light reflected by what looks like a pond but is in fact a skylight of Renzo Piano’s California Academy of Sciences building. Piano worked with Academy scientists and a team of California professionals, including Stantec Architecture from San Francisco, to revitalize the California Academy of Sciences building, located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

Designing a NYC Icon: One Bryant Park / Bank of America Tower

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The first skyscraper in the United States to achieve LEED Platinum also utilized the principles of biophilia in its design, helping to bring the feeling of nature into the heart of New York City.

When One Bryant Park – also known as the Bank of America Tower – was completed in 2009, it became the second tallest structure in New York City (after the Empire State Building). It was also the first skyscraper in the United States to achieve LEED Platinum certification. The list of its energy-efficient and environmentally friendly features is impressive and has been much discussed.

How to Paint a Masonry Fireplace

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Many older homes have brick masonry fireplaces that can date a room. Short of removing the brick, what can you do to create a more modern look? One common method is to give the fireplace a new coat of paint. Join our host, Jeff Wilson, and guest Joe Grywalski, of JNG Painting, for a tutorial on painting a brick masonry fireplace.

Zaha Hadid Architects' Edifici Torre Espiral

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How far can a single building extend its reach to elevate, both aesthetically and economically, a surrounding neighborhood? Zaha Hadid Architects' Edifici Torre Espiral, or "spiraling tower," designed in partnership with Patrik Schumacher, seeks to become a catalyst for the development of the 22@Barcelona district. This waterfront area, which covers 115 city blocks, has been actively transforming itself from a derelict industrial zone into a commercial hub since 2000, when the city government launched its redevelopment.

New York City Revitalizes the Life Between Buildings

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(Thanks in part to Gehl Architects)

Over the past decade or so, New York City has been making dramatic improvements that emphasize the quality of life on the street, urban vitality, and sustainability. This is a most welcome shift that is part of a most welcome sea change. Specifically, the city has been carving out more spaces for pedestrians, bicycles, public transit, public gathering, and parks. New York City has no lack of pedestrians, and these improvements invite more. Planting a million trees and creating 200 miles of bike lanes are certainly New York City-sized moves. Like many cities, New York City is correcting the problems created by modernist planning and the predominance of the automobile, including damage to ordinary life for people on the street, where valuable urban vitality was traded for more lanes of traffic and parking lots.

Bamboo Housing in Carabanchel by Foreign Office Architects (FOA)

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It’s official: architects are in love with bamboo. A tree-hugging designer’s dream, bamboo is an eco-friendly, versatile, and durable material. More importantly, bamboo is the fastest growing perennial on the planet, making it symbolically a perfect choice for a city like Madrid, with its ever growing population and, subsequently, its enormous need for public housing. Located in the Carabanchel district, a “regeneration area” on the outskirts of Madrid, Carabanchel Social Housing is a state-subsidized, five-story residential project with 100 units, covered with bamboo louvres. (The structure itself is not made of bamboo, but bamboo is very prominent in the primary architectural statement it makes, due to the louvers.) Foreign Office Architects (FOA) credit Farshid Moussavi, Alejandro Zaera Polo, and others at FOA for Carabanchel Social Housing’s innovative design, which merges an environmentally conscious model with the social urbanization needs of the 21st century. One of the largest social housing projects in Europe, it was completed in late 2007.

Framing Out Openings

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Contractor to Contractor: Follow professional interior contractor Robert Thimmes as he demonstrates how to frame-out openings. This third installment in a series of articles, Framing Walls With Light Gauge Metal Studs, visits the common practices for the framing of window and door openings.

When plumbing your openings and transferring your layout to the top track, turn your stud 90 degrees and attach your level high on the stud flange. Align the bottom edge of your stud with the edge of your opening, get the bubble "dead-on" and mark the top. Attaching your level to the flange rather than the webbing gives you a straighter surface that is less prone to bow, thus reducing variables and improving quality. Since one side of your opening has been plumbed, now just measure over the actual width of the opening and mark to establish the top of the other side.

Slabs for Colder Climates, Part 3: Installing Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations for Unheated Buildings

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Fernando Pages Ruiz continues his educational series on constructing frost-protected shallow foundations, focusing here on unheated structures.

Although neither the International Residential Code (IRC) nor the International Code Council (ICC) provides a prescriptive path, design criteria do exist to design frost-protected shallow foundations (FPSFs) for unheated buildings, including garages and porches attached to heated structures. The standard for unheated buildings developed by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), ASCE 32-01, Standard for the Design and Construction of Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations, is available for purchase at asce.org.

Glass Block Windows – 5 Steps for Installation Success

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Green Homes vs Traditional Homes

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In recent years, the U.S. home building industry has undoubtedly seen its troubles. The downturn in the economy has forced many builders to rethink how they approach their market now that it is much smaller. In many cases those builders have chosen to address the increasing demand for green homes. By offering green homes, many builders are now meeting their customers’ needs for energy- and water-efficient homes with a healthier environment and financial benefits. What once was a niche can now be seen as mainstream. According to the United States Green Building Council, their LEED for Homes program has certified 10,000 homes since it started in 2008. This sounds very impressive, but what is a green home, and what are the benefits compared to a traditional home?

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