Daily Dose: Final Post

This is my “farewell post” – I finish my time here at Masonry Technology at the end of this week.

Without a doubt, The Dry Facts blog has been the highlight of my year here and I am loathe to let it go! It’s exciting to showcase innovative – or just plain odd – architectural creations, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and pondering as much as I’ve enjoyed the discoveries.

Though the Daily Dose is coming to a close, I hope you will continue to visit The Dry Facts to stay updated on what’s new at Masonry Technology. Recent videos, online courses and company news will be announced through this site – and it’s certainly worth your time to keep up with this company.

Thanks for the reads and comments everyone… rock on! (I couldn’t resist).



Daily Dose: Tree Museum

Add to TwitterThis June marked the opening of the Tree Museum in Switzerland. Landscape architect Enzo Enea, along with Oppenheim Architecture + Design, designed and built this haven for 2,000 different species of trees. His own collection of trees, which has taken Enea 17 years to amass, is also on display on the museum grounds.

Tree Museum; Image courtesy of arch daily

Tree Museum; Image courtesy of arch daily

Tree Museum; Image courtesy of arch daily

Most of the architectural elements you see in the images were designed as backdrops to showcase the various trees. The headquarters building itself is a sustainable construction that uses natural daylight, a green roof and geothermal energy. This re-imagining of what a museum – or a building – really consists of breaks new ground in the world of architecture and will hopefully lead us to a more integrated human-and-nature approach to construction in the future.

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Daily Dose: College Football Stadiums

Add to TwitterCollege football stadiums aren’t often lauded as great architectural achievements; still, there are a few whose designs can alter and enhance the experience of the games – for both players and spectators. Michigan’s imposing Big House, Oregon’s deafening Autzen Stadium and Florida’s challenging Swamp all deliver unique game-day conditions.

UMich brick façade renovation

The Big House (University of Michigan Stadium) could aptly be renamed the Big Brick House, thanks to recent expansions and renovations that are slated to finish up this year. Hand laid brick – 1.2 million to be precise – was used to build an extensive arcade wall and rusticated lower level that makes visual reference to the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. A blend was created specifically for Michigan’s stadium and the layout computerized by designer Dave Lacovic to ensure the bricks were placed to create the most aesthetically pleasing effect.

Michigan crowd

The $227 million renovation also included expanding the stadium’s official capacity to 109,901, though it frequently tops 111,000 with band members and stadium staff in attendance. Built in 1927, the original capacity for this “Carnegie Hall of Sports” was a more modest 72,000. Michigan continues to dream big, as they’ve left the north and south ends open for future additions.

Autzen Stadium

Oregon’s Autzen Stadium doesn’t even approach Michigan’s capacity, but it can still pack a punch. Crowd noise; attributed to steep stands, proximity to the field, an overhanging roof and rowdy fans; has been measured at 127.2 decibels. To put that in perspective, a jet take off at a distance of 100 meters merits 130 dB. The human pain threshold is 120 dB. Yep. In 2003, a Michigan columnist wrote,

Autzen’s 59,000 strong make the Big House collectively sound like a pathetic whimper. It’s louder than any place I’ve ever been, and that includes The Swamp at Florida, The Shoe in Columbus, and Death Valley at Louisiana State. Autzen Stadium is where great teams go to die.

Ouch. The noise doesn’t seem to be keeping anyone away, however. Autzen has had a solid streak of 71 ticket sell-outs since 1999.

Gator fans

Last on our list is The Swamp in Gainesville, home to the Florida Gators. It’s known as one of the most difficult places to play, with a distinct and measurable home field advantage. (The past 20 years have shown a 113-13 home record, the best in the nation). Because the stadium was built on a shallow sinkhole, the field lies slightly below ground level. This – coupled with steep stands – only augments the warmth and humidity of Florida in the fall. And though it can’t quite match Autzen’s volume, The Swamp’s noise level is certainly disrupting and can make playcalls easy to miss. Last in this lineup, but not to be underestimated!

What are your favorite stadiums for college football? Let us know!

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Masonry Edge Storypole magazine, Vol 4 No 4. “The Big Brick House.”

New MTI YouTube Video

Add to TwitterWe recently created a new video/animation for our MTI Home page.  This video features a fairytale theme and with a “tongue in cheek” approach addresses why architects, contractors and building owners need to face the reality of adding drainage planes to the rainscreen building envelope.  We decided to upload it to YouTube so that a broader audience (ex. homeowners) might become aware of the necessity of entrapped moisture protection.  The movie is entitled “Sure Cavity Drainage Plane Will Save Your Castle.”  It only takes 48 seconds to view it, so we hope you check it out!

Castle picture

New AIA/CES Class from MTI

Add to TwitterWe recently added a new AIA/CES approved class entitled “Don’t Waste Your Energy” MTI509.  This course is approved for HSW and Sustainability credit.  It can be accessed from our Education page and is found in the AIA Course Section.

Sustainability Health Safety Welfare

Daily Dose: Hang Nga “Crazy House”

Add to TwitterThe Hang Nga Guesthouse in Dalat, Vietnam projects such a nonconformist exterior that it’s known locally as the “Crazy House.” Indeed, it does look like something out of a dark Alice in Wonderland-esque fantasy world. The hotel reportedly does not get many overnight guests but makes most of its money giving day tours to visitors.

Crazy House; Image ©Tom Ravenscroft

Hang Viet Nga is the architect of “Crazy House.” As the daughter of a former president of Vietnam, Nga was afforded a bit more free reign than is usually enjoyed by architects and designers in the region. The guesthouse is actually built inside of a large tree complete with theme rooms, a monkey cage, balconies and a sculpture garden. Though the result is more than slightly haphazard, Crazy House maintains an air of intrigue that continues to attract tourists… though most are still too nervous to spend an entire evening in this strange menagerie.

Crazy House; Image courtesy of inhabitat.com

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Daily Dose: Centre Pompidou

Add to TwitterLike the Guggenheim’s expansion from NYC to Bilbao, Spain, the Centre Pompidou in Paris is increasing the reach of its collection by installing a satellite museum in Metz, France. The original 1977 building contains one of the finest collections of modern art and is a notable aspect of Parisian architecture.

Centre Pompidou, Paris; Image courtesy of gothereguide.com

Pompidou-Metz; Image ©Roland Halbe

Shigeru Ban, the architect who designed the Pompidou-Metz, is known for his use of renewable materials and willingness to build for the public good; his cardboard and paper shelters provided relief for refugees following the 1996 earthquake in Kobe, Japan. Ban’s newest creation is a bit more permanent in nature, and much more fanciful. Pompidou-Metz’s roof has a clean-cut, futuristic profile that gives way to intricate, wood lattice-work support pillars. The sensuously curved elements appear in stark contrast to the boxy, industrial look of the main portion of the museum, and while it’s certainly something new, it doesn’t necessarily make the mark for some.

Pompidou-Metz; Image ©Roland Halbe

Rowan Moore of Architectural Record is especially critical:

The theme of the building is the play of the monumental and the spontaneous, the permanent and the transient. However, instead of dancing together, these qualities entangle and trip. If it’s a tent, it’s a lugubrious one; if it’s a museum, it’s a shoddy one.

I must admit that I, too, am left confused by the building’s purpose and overall character based on its haphazard appearance. The roof drew me in and remains a strong point of interest (especially as it’s lit up – it seems so weightless and un-anchored), but the Pompidou-Metz as a whole can’t quite pass muster.

What do you think? Are we being overly critical of a structure that is “great before its time” or does Pompidou-Metz lack cohesiveness and relevancy? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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