Monday, April 30, 2012

Upcoming Norman Bel Geddes Retrospective (and a Way for You to Grab His Book, Now)

Upcoming Norman Bel Geddes Retrospective (and a Way for You to Grab His Book, Now):

When it comes to the "Father of Industrial Design" title, nine out of ten people would probably confer it on Raymond Loewy. But consider this: Loewy was born in 1893, the same year as Norman Bel Geddes. And while Loewy received his first industrial design commission in 1929, Bel Geddes had opened up his own industrial design studio two years earlier, in 1927.

The influential, prolific, and less-recognized Bel Geddes was an important proponent of the streamlined and art deco styles in product design, and he worked on everything from cocktail sets to automobiles to radios, to say nothing of his extensive concept work. His book Horizons in Industrial Design, from 1932, made an important case for our profession at a time when a fascination with engineering threatened to let the machines, aesthetically speaking, get away from us. "Although we built the machines, we have not become at ease with them and have not mastered them," he wrote. "Our condition is the result of a swift industrial evolution. If we see the situation clearly, we realize that we have been infatuated with our own mechanical ingenuity. Rapidly mutiplying our products, creating and glorifying the gadget, we have been inferior craftsmen, the victims rather than the masters of our ingenuity." Industrial Design, Bel Geddes argued, would gain us that mastery.


Another Bel Geddes watershed moment was his "Futurama" exhibit for GM at the 1939 World's Fair. The exhibit consisted of a one-acre scale model of a futuristic city stocked with 500,000 individual buildings and some 50,000 cars moving on automated highways. Spectators sat on an EPCOT-like conveyor system that traveled for a third of a mile, winding its way above the diorama, where it was suspended to give the viewer an airplane-like perspective. It was the smash hit of the Fair, mobbed with 30,000 visitors a day. (Check out more images of it here.)


Outside Offices: 14 Detached Work Pods, Eggs, Modules & More

Outside Offices: 14 Detached Work Pods, Eggs, Modules & More: [ By Steph in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

Why settle for a cramped corner of a noisy house when your home office could be a separate unit tucked into the greenery of your backyard? Detached office modules, art studios, recording studios and other work spaces help keep the line between work and home life sharply delineated, but cut your commute down to mere steps. Modern and often modular, these 14 compact office designs fit into virtually any outdoor space, and they’re so good-looking, they practically function as yard art.

WorkPod by Ecospace

(image via: ecospacestudios)
Sleek and minimalist, the WorkPod by Ecospace architecture studio is a compact detached office with optional integrated work areas and storage systems. You can even configure your own customized pod in one of five different sizes, and choose the color of the exterior.

Blob VB3 by dmvA

(image via: dmva architecten)
From the outside, it looks like a dinosaur egg: it’s simply a white blob. But open that discreet door on the side and you’ll find an ultramodern studio space with lots of built-in niches for storage. It features a skylight and a front hatch that opens to let in air and additional sunlight. The appropriately named Blob V3 functions as a mobile guest house, portable backyard office or secondary library space.

Tetra Shed by Innovation Imperative

(images via: archdaily)
Looking like an architectural interpretation of Darth Vader’s helmet, the Tetra Shed is a geometric volume with flaps that open to provide a door and windows. A single unit is large enough to function as an office or guest room, and multiple units can be connected. The Tetra Shed is made of engineered timber, matte black rubber and birch faced plywood.

Banyan Treehouse by RPA

(images via: archdaily)
This luxurious modern studio and guest house sits above a live tree trunk in Nichols Canyon, Los Angeles, and pays tribute to the treehouse aesthetic with three stylized modern pillars that evoke natural branches. Rockefeller Partners Architects designed the detached unit for the eastern-facing ridge location, topping it off with an evocative butterfly-shaped roofline.

Sett Studio

(images via:
The prefabricated Sett Studio can easily be unloaded from a truck and slid right into place in your backyard. With layouts ranging between 97 to 192 square feet, the Sett Studio is perfect for a fairly small office, art studio, yoga space or guest room that won’t require a building permit in most areas. It’s made of SIP (Structural Insulated Panel) technology, which is energy-efficient and reduces manufacturing waste.


(image via:
The perfectly round, shingle-covered Archipod is certainly an unusual structure to see in someone’s backyard. Designed to be garden decor as much as a functioning studio or workspace, the Archipod is a 9-foot-diameter sphere that is shipped in segments so it can easily be carried, piece by piece, through a house. Inside is a semi-circular desk, a skylight and a porthole-like round glass window.

Office Pod by Manuel Villa

(images via:
Architects Manuel Villa and Alberto Gonzalez designed this office pod for a backyard in Bogota, Colombia. The polyhedron-shaped structure has a pine wood interior, a black exterior with a honeycomb pattern and a large teak deck. A wall of windows and a bubble-shaped skylight bring in lots of natural light.

Sustainsia Cocoon

(images via:
Looking somewhat like the bottom end of a guitar, the Sustainsia Cocoon is a curvy detached studio space with built-in furniture that requires users to bring in nothing more than a chair and personal items. A bench can pull out into a futon bed, and overhead lift-open cabinets have doors that continue into the curving contour of the ceiling. The table pulls down like a Murphy bed, saving space when not in use.

Generation Design Studio

(image via: generation design studio)
Generation Design Studio created this ‘tiny house’ for a backyard in Portland, Oregon. Built from an old greenhouse foundation, the 198-square-foot structure is made from mostly recycled glass and lumber, and has custom-built cedar doors and windows.


(images via:
Another totally transportable, self-contained backyard working space is the OfficePod. The modular design makes it easy to move and assemble, and a rolling wooden facade enables it to be opened to the outdoors. A top-quality locking system ensures that valuables inside are protected. Built and delivered, the whole OfficePod comes out to about $24,000. Features include an integrated desk, built-in storage, LED lighting and window blinds.

Log Cabin Recording Studio by Piet Hein Eek

(image via:
It’s anything but a traditional log cabin. In fact, when the window awnings are down, Piet Hein Eek’s recording studio looks like nothing more than a stack of logs. Cleverly camouflaged, the studio looks incredibly rustic from the outside but features a bright white interior.

Prefab Origin Design Studio

(images via: blu homes)
Prefab manufacturer Blu Homes offers a range of detached office/studios called The Origin Series, available in three sizes ranging from 24 to 48 feet long. Simple rectangular structures with lots of windows, the Origin structures come in a choice of floor plans that include mother-in-law apartments, media rooms, artist studios and even entire two-bedroom homes.

Garden Studio by

(images via: design milk)
The Garden Office Studio by is a backyard office with all of the comforts of home, including insulation, double-glazed windows and an optional bathroom. With enough room inside for two people to work, the studio boasts floor-to-ceiling glass that undoubtedly inspires a whole lot of nature gazing. It’s built from sustainably sourced timber using environmentally friendly construction methods and there’s no PVC anywhere on the structure, including in the rain gutter.

Modular Home Office by Stephen Meir

(images via: coroflot)
This modular ‘office shed’ by designer Stephen Meir takes just “one day, two people, three tools” to put together. The office arrives in what look like slices of the whole, which snap together in any configuration you like, in either a straight or curving line depending on how you align them. A rubber seal between each component creates a watertight seal.

Want More? Click for Great Related Content on WebUrbanist:

Outstanding Offices: 12 Unorthodox Business Buildings

Inspired office buildings may be few and far between, but these 12 unusual buildings take office architecture to new heights with treehouse offices and more.
1 Comment - Click Here to Read More

10 Clever Architectural Creations Using Cargo Containers: Shipping Container Homes and Offices

Cargo containers are of increasing interest to architects who plan to make them into homes, offices and other buildings through simple modifications and conversions.
44 Comments - Click Here to

Alphabet Building Spells Out New Approach to Creative Offices

An old port in Amsterdam will be transformed into the Alphabet Building, an unusual collection of offices for creative companies with letter-shaped windows.
1 Comment - Click Here to Read More

Share on Facebook

[ By Steph in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

[ WebUrbanist | Archives | Galleries | Privacy | TOS ]

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects

Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects:
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
American firm Handel Architects have completed a New York hotel with porthole windows that give it an uncanny resemblance to children’s game Connect Four.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
Comprising one seven-storey block adjoined to another that is twelve storeys high, the Dream Downtown Hotel occupies a renovated former annex of the National Maritime Union of America.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
Overlapping layers of perforated metal clad the smaller of the two blocks, where the circular openings create juliet balconies for the guest rooms behind.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
Porthole windows also feature on the taller block, which has a slanted exterior of stainless steel tiles.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
The architects split the building into two during the renovation, when they removed the middle sections from four floors to create a screened pool terrace at the centre.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
The hotel building also contains two restaurants, a gym, an event space and shops.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
See more stories about hotel architecture in our dedicated category.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
Photography is by Bruce Damonte, apart from where otherwise stated.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
Here’s some more information from Handel Architects:

Dream Downtown Hotel is a 184,000 SF boutique hotel in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. The 12-story building includes 316 guestrooms, two restaurants, rooftop and VIP lounges, outdoor pool and pool bar, a gym, event space, and ground floor retail.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
Dream sits on a though-block site, fronting both 16th and 17th Streets, and is adjacent to the Maritime Hotel, which sits adjacent to the west. In 1964, the National Maritime Union of America commissioned New Orleans-based architect Albert Ledner to design a new headquarters for the Union, on Seventh Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
Two years later, he designed an annex for the headquarters on the site where Dream currently sits. A few years later, Mr. Ledner designed a flanking wing for the annex, which would eventually be converted to the Maritime Hotel.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
In the 1970s, the Union collapsed and the buildings were sold and used for various purposes in the years that followed. In 2006, Handel Architects was engaged to convert the main annex into the Dream Downtown Hotel.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
The otherness of Ledner’s 1966 design for the National Maritime Annex was critical to preserve. Along the 17th Street exposure, the sloped façade was clad in stainless steel tiles, which were placed in a running bond pattern like the original mosaic tiles of Ledner’s Union building.
Dezeen Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
New porthole windows were added, one of the same dimension as the original and one half the size, loosening the rigid grid of the previous design, while creating a new façade of controlled chaos and verve.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
The tiles reflect the sky, sun, and moon, and when the light hits the façade perfectly, the stainless steel disintegrates and the circular windows appear to float like bubbles.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
The orthogonal panels fold at the corners, continuing the slope and generating a contrasting effect to the window pattern of the north façade.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
The 16th Street side of the building, previously a blank façade when the building served as an annex, was given new life. The skin is constructed of two perforated stainless steel layers, its top sheet of holes a replication of the 17th Street punched-window design and the inner sheet a regular perforation pattern.

Cellar – click above for a larger image
The outer rain screen is punctured with porthole-shaped Juliet balconies for the guestrooms and peels up at the ground level to form the hotel canopy and reveal the hotel entrance.

Ground floor – click above for a larger image
The original through block building offered limited possibilities for natural light.
Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects
2nd floor – click above for a larger image
Four floors were removed from the center of the building, which created a new pool terrace and beach along with new windows and balconies for guestrooms.

3rd floor – click above for a larger image
The glass bottom pool allows guests in the lobby glimpses through the water to the outside (and vice versa) connecting the spaces in an ethereal way.

7th floor – click above for a larger image
Light wells framed in teak between the lobby, pool and lower level levels allow the space to flow.

8th floor – click above for a larger image
Two hundred hand blown glass globes float through the lobby and congregate over The Marble Lane restaurant filling the space with a magical light cloud.

9th floor – click above for a larger image
Fixtures and furnishings were custom designed for the public spaces and guestrooms to complement the exterior design and to continue the limitless feeling of space throughout the guest experience.

12th floor – click above for a larger image
Handel Architects served as both architect and interior designer for the project.

Click above for a larger image