September 2011
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Month September 2011

adidas Laces

From Architizer

Brief Research and development building with 1700 working places at the adidas World of Sports campus in Herzogenaurach. Added Value In contrast to conventional office typologies, the ring structure developed by kadawittfeldarchitektur lends to the building a double relationship to the landscape – both to the outer surroundings and to the communicative landscape of the atrium. The connecting walkways, “Laces”, efficiently open up access to all office areas without the need to cross through other departments. At the same time they transform the atrium into a creative center of the building that provides an identity.

The new Laces blends into the existing World of Sports ensemble as a floating counterpart to the black, recumbent mass of the adidas Brand Center. Its clearly contoured volume positively invites the surrounding campus to find a continuation within its interior, an atrium with a controlled climate. Lined up in a circular arrangement, the office areas with their large glazed surfaces open onto the atmospheric inner space and the remarkable landscaped space. The connecting walkways that cross the atrium, the Laces, “tie” the built volume together, as it were, to form a many-layered office building that is rich in relationships. They enable a maximum of interaction and allow open areas of communication to emerge. As delicate connecting bridges, they weave a poetic spatial structure into the interior and thus make the special creative atmosphere of the building legible. The result is an inspiring place for research and product development.

architect: kadawittfeldarchitektur
typology: office building
construction volume: 62.000m²
cubature: 356.000m³
realization: 2008-2011
client: adidas AG World of Sports
project partner: Dirk Zweering
awards: Office Application Award 2009: Best Innovative Concept

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The Art of Willem de Kooning

From The Economist

A mix of fear and pleasure

Fortify yourself before visiting “de Kooning: A Retrospective” at MoMA in New York. Even on a weekday at noon, with the show open only to members, the galleries were packed and a security guard kept turning away gatecrashers. Crowds are to be expected, as this is the first big museum exhibition devoted to the full career of Willem de Kooning, a Dutch-American artist who died in 1997 at the age of 92. Comprehensive and mesmerising, this show is strong stuff. Don’t come on an empty stomach.

Born in Rotterdam, de Kooning emigrated in his early 20s to New York, where he found work as a house painter, illustrator and window dresser before turning fully to art. His earliest abstract paintings—a modest set of interior scenes completed between 1937 and 1939—are a delicate series, not unlike paper cut-outs, which anticipates the black-and-white abstractions of the following decade. “The shapes, they’re all there, but they haven’t exploded yet,” aptly observed a woman to her companion.

The works that follow, completed during the early 1940s, show de Kooning to be a maestro of charcoal. He works the medium into hairy curls, tipsy graphs, smudges, swirls and clouds. In a work like 1944’s “Pink Lady”, charcoal is simultaneously a primary element, a finishing touch, and a useful trick for conveying what it might feel like to fall over drunk, hit your head on a coffee table, and glance up to find a naked woman perched on a chair in front of you. The painting is a mood, a picture, and a hazmat sign all at once. As with charcoal, so too with a sign painter’s tool called a “liner’s brush”, which de Kooning used to produce swooping lines that range from sleek to pancake-batter drippy.

The artist’s third series of Woman paintings, composed in New York between 1950 and 1953 (and including the notorious “Woman I”), feature subjects that are part female, part swamp monster. With their asymmetrically melting features—one eye here, half a set of teeth there—these women take on the disquieting appearance of decomposing corpses. Nature does ugly, fantastical things to human bodies, and so does de Kooning. The paintings are exhilarating in the way that a rollercoaster is exhilarating, with fear playing a major part in the pleasure. At the time Lee Krasner, a fellow abstract-expressionist painter (and Jackson Pollock’s wife), found these paintings to be vessels of de Kooning’s “hatred and hostility toward the female” and rejected them as “offensive in every possible sense”.

The 1970s were a time of exuberant experimentation for the artist, and the works on display are a party mix of lithographs, charcoal drawings, bronze sculptures (more lady swamp monsters) and giant oil paintings in unexpectedly jolly hues.

De Kooning’s controversial late paintings, which deck the final gallery, are a bright and puzzling bunch. Painted between 1981 and 1987, as the artist suffered from worsening dementia, they are inviting and elusive by turn. The museum describes this as a period during which “drastically simplified” techniques led to “what are effectively drawn paintings in a limited colour range.” Though he was enfeebled, de Kooning’s final works blast away any theories of serious artistic decline. Regarding these pieces, Oliver Sacks once said, “Style is the deepest part of one’s being, and may be preserved, almost to the last, in a dementia.”

Part of the exhibition’s appeal is its exhaustive (and exhausting) quality. To properly absorb these 200 works, consider coming more than once.

de Kooning: A Retrospective is on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York through January 9th 2012

Professor Kim’s House

Via ArchDaily, by Christopher Henry

Architect: Moohoi Architecture
Location: SeoDaemoon-Koo, Seoul, Korea
Lead Architect: Kim Jae-kwan
Written Material: Kim jae-kwan
Construction: Kim Jae-kwan
Site Area: 133.6 sqm
Project Area: 140.2 sqm
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Park young-chae

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Little Potted Gardens of Tokyo

Images from Hello Sandwich.

Natacha von Braun & Lemmy Caution

LEDs with Ojo Señor

From Vandalog

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Size Matters: Length of Songbirds’ Playlists Linked to Brain Region Proportions

From PhysOrg

Call a bird “birdbrained” and they may call “fowl.” Cornell University researchers have proven that the capacity for learning in birds is not linked to overall brain size, but to the relative size and proportion of their specific brain regions.

Songbirds with upper brain regions that are larger in relation to lower regions have a greater capacity for learning songs. Higher brain areas control the majority of cognitive and learning functions, while lower brain areas control more motor functions, according to the new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research shows that when a bird’s higher cortex-like brain area called the high vocal center (HVC) is larger relative to the lower brain area called RA, or if the RA is large relative to an even lower area called N12, the species is able to learn dozens of different notes. Such species as mockingbirds, catbirds, European blackbirds and European warblers can learn hundreds of notes because they have those relative size differences in both sets of areas.

“HVC size by itself only modestly predicts capacity for song learning, but relative size is a very strong predictor,” said Tim DeVoogd, professor of psychology and of neurobiology and behavior and the paper’s senior author. Jordan Moore, a graduate student in DeVoogd’s lab, was the paper’s lead author. “Our work is the first to demonstrate a basic principle of evolution using a specific behavior – having greater cortical control of brain function gives greater behavioral flexibility, including enhanced learning.”

In bird species with great capacities for song learning, higher brain areas likely became built up over lower areas as a result of sexual selection, he said, where females mated with males that had more elaborate songs. Repeated over millions of generations, the structure of the brains of these species changed such that higher brain areas became larger relative to lower areas.

The research suggests that relative brain area sizes may offer a mechanism by which a prominent form of evolution has worked. In birds and perhaps in humans, selection for increased learning capacity may have acted by prolonging the development of the last parts of the brain to grow. Humans are able to speak and to set and achieve complex goals because of prolonged development of higher brain areas, such as the cortex and frontal cortex in particular. These areas of the brain are the last to mature and do not fully develop until humans are in their early 20s, DeVoogd said.

In the study, the researchers collected three males each from 49 common species representing an extensive variety of songbirds from the United States, Europe and South Africa, where each bird was actively singing to attract females as part of his reproductive cycle. They then examined and measured the brain areas.

More information: “Motor pathway convergence predicts syllable repertoire size in oscine birds,” published Sept. 12, 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study Finds We Choose Money Over Happiness

From MedicalXpress, by George Lowery

Given the choice, would you take a good-paying job with reasonable demands on your time or a high-paying job with longer work hours, permitting only six hours of sleep? Many people opt for the cash, even when they know their decision will compromise their happiness, according to a new Cornell study.

“You might think of happiness as the ultimate goal that people pursue, but actually, people think of goals like health, family happiness, social status and sense of purpose as sometimes competing with happiness,” said Alex Rees-Jones, a Cornell doctoral student in the field of economics and co-author of a paper to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal American Economic Review. His co-authors include Cornell assistant professors of economics Dan Benjamin and Ori Heffetz, as well as University of Michigan professor Miles Kimball.

“We found that people make trade-offs between happiness and other things,” Rees-Jones said. “For example, they explicitly told us in the free response sections that they would be happier one way, but their family would be happier if they took higher-paying options.” They also said they were sometimes willing to choose a job that they thought would bring less happiness for themselves if they thought it would generate a greater sense of purpose, higher social status, a greater sense of control or a higher level of their family’s happiness, Rees-Jones said.

The study asked more than 2,600 survey participants (including 633 Cornell students) to consider a variety of scenarios, including the choice between an $80,000 job with reasonable work hours and seven and a half hours of sleep each night, or a $140,000 job with long work hours and time for only six hours of sleep.

Subjects were then asked which option would make them happier.

“On average, there are systematic differences between what people choose and what people think would make them happier,” Rees-Jones said. “For example, people are more likely to choose the higher-income/lower-sleep job even when they don’t think it will make them happier.”

The authors “wanted to see if people were trying to be as happy as possible,” Rees-Jones said.

After the survey, subjects were asked if they thought their responses were in error. “Only 7 percent told us that they thought they were making mistakes,” Rees-Jones said. “When we asked them if they would regret any cases where they had a discrepancy between choice and well-being, 23 percent said yes. In both cases the vast majority said no, it wasn’t a mistake, and no, they wouldn’t regret it.”

“Overall, this indicates that many are willing to pursue a course that sacrifices happiness in favor of other important goals,” said Rees-Jones. “These respondents seem to indicate that maximizing happiness was not perceived to be in their own best interest. However, even if happiness is only one of many goals, it was still the strongest single predictor of choice in our data.”

Milstein Hall Now Open

From ArchDaily

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From Vandalog

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