Vincent James and Jennifer Yoos of VJAA recently spoke at IIT and gave a lengthy presentation on their research of "skyways" around the world. They didn't pose any conclusions, and i don't think I will here either, but they were fascinated with them. At he end of the presentation someone proposed that overpasses are detrimental to street life because it displaces activity. James and Yoos countered with the High Line, and argued it depended on which activities in particular areas are displaced as to whether an skyway/overpass/viaduct will have a detrimental effect. They posited that the High Line represents another layer, in fact a lost layer, of leisure activity in an otherwise dense and rugged neighborhood of west Chelsea. I thought it was an interesting take on why the almost comically uber-loved High Line works, and just maybe that this idea of layered and supplemented activities could work in places other than idiosyncratic New York if the right needs were identified.

In the days after I have noticed quite a few Viaduct projects pop up and have been thinking about the different ways to to approach these (typically deteriorating) linear pieces of infrastructure, many of which have a strong physical and psychological presence in their respective cities. The High Line is so brilliantly simple because it simply switches the intended use of its program: people instead of trains. No fuss, no muss, just make it fun and pretty and let it do its job all over again. I think that what is so exciting about the High Line is that citites everywhere could see themselves easily do the same thing with their aging viaducts for a fraction of the cost of tearing them down, actually turning them into an economic engine, not to mention a public asset. Some day, when Chicago and the CTA finally throw their hands up in desperation and frustration, this is what the L will become.

Then there is this beautiful idea out of London by Undercurrent Architects that proposes a reuse of the close to 10,000 arches created by the viaducts throughout the city. This re-programming of this largely defunct infrastructure is pretty convincing, especially when it is this well done. A energy analyst has to love the thermal mass provided by the viaduct, and its "green" cred is also bolstered by the material savings and recycling as well. Lets just hope it doesn't leak.

On the complete other end of the spectrum is this project by my friend Noel Turgeon. Sort of a Mega Viaduct, it turns the infrastructural typology on its head from the get go. People, not heavy traffic, go on top and inside the massive structure, while the existing heavy industry traffic (truck, train, barge) pass underneath perpendicularly. This solution is also responding to the need of leaving the meager "natural" areas around the industrial site undisturbed. The huge building/dam/bridge attempts to tread lightly while it lofts its program over the site, and does a pretty good job with its dynamic form. Theoretically this inverted, programmed viaduct could perform in a number of different locations, although I think the warning of James and Yoos would be well headed by all skyway supporters: don't supplant what is already there, supplement with what is lacking.
I know I am late to the Freakonomics party, but I picked up the book again today and this was the first paragraph I read:

    The delicate balance between these factors helps explain why, for instance, a typical prostitute earns more than the typical architect. It may not seem as though she should. The architect would appear to be more skilled (as the word is usually defined) and better educated (again, as usually defined). But little girls don't grow up dreaming of becoming prostitutes, so the supply of potential prostitutes is relatively small. Their skills, while not necessarily "specialized", are practiced in a very specialized context. The job is unpleasant and forbidding in at least two significant ways: the likelihood of violence and the lost opportunity of having a stable family life. as for demand? Let's just say that an architect is more likely to hire a prostitute than vice versa.

I have to go with Phillip Johnson on this one, these authors don't make a very convincing case on the differences between these two professions...
Saw this guy the other day out on the lake and the crappy iphone camera had no way of seeing that far, so I did a little sketch. There is one small rock that juts above the water way out in the lake about a mile up from Promontory Point, and on that day there was this big bird sitting on it sunning. Bigger than a seagull, but too far out to know what it was. Anyway, it was really amazing to watch this bird sit there for minutes facing the low morning sun with its wings raised, gathering heat during the chilly morning. Silly, but it just felt very cosmically significant that this solitary bird consulted the sun in such an intent way, that it knew that this was what it needed to do to get ready for the day. I might start trying it on cold mornings.
After moving down to Hyde park for the month I must admit my morning commute has become much more picturesque. Starting out at Promotory Point and ending on Michigan Avenue next to one of my favorite buildings (Carbide and Carbon) it definitely takes the edge off of going into work. Gettin cold though!

That's right, BATTLE SNAKES. When all of Steve's groomsmen were in town for some bachelor party shenanigans I was telling them about all the snakes in Arizona and one of them asked, "Did you just say battle snake?!". Thus, a new, ferocious breed was born. Venomous at both ends, they have cobra hoods, rattler body and scorpion tails. We laughed about it for a while, but I thought it would be a pretty hilarious gift to make shirts out of it. Well, Steve was two steps ahead of me and had his  friend Kristin make this sketch of the infamous creature. We just ordered shirts to wear under the tuxes at the wedding, and I drew up a list of the nefarious characters that help spawn these devil creatures to put on the back. I can't stop laughing.

So excited for this to come out. The RC Heli shots look like they will be awesome. You can live stream is on the 19th and 24 hours afterwards here.

JetSKIpack that is. I was riding my bike to work past Burnham Harbor and noticed a guy with a helmet swimming kind of funny behind a guy on a jetski. Seconds later the guy with the helmet flew into the air on a jet of water and flew around! I almost crashed my bike. These guys were talking like they were practicing for a show or demo, and they just kept tooling around. Eventually i had to get to work, and all i could think was, I wish I could fly up to the 30th floor instead of taking the elevator like a chump. Some day....

Archdaily featured an awesome compilation of videos by koganada that dissect the visual styles of a few Directors. Recently after reviewing some new film i got back from San Fran and Chile I realized that my most powerful compositions were one point perspectives. I started to wonder if that was all I would ever shoot, and whether my style could improve. After seeing these compilations and these director's predilections I guess its not so bad to have a style?

Beautiful examples of 3D (and in some cases 4D!) typography by studio lo siento. Check out their site, it's worth the trip.