Thursday, November 20, 2014

Going BIG at the Smithsonian

Beginning in 2016, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. will undergo a proposed 20-year renovation. The master plan gives new life to the Smithsonian castle, adding expanded visitor services, new mall-facing entrances to the National Museum of African Art, and the Arthur M. Sackler gallery. Site enhacements will also include improved visibility and access from the Freer Gallery of Art to the Hirshhorn Museum and its neighboring sculpture garden. 

The lead architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) recently released renderings of the completed project mentioning, “The centerpiece of the proposed South Mall master plan is the revitalization of the iconic Smithsonian castle.” 

Bjarke Ingels Group reveals Smithsonian master plan for Washington, D.C. 
Image courtesy of BIG / The Smithsonian Institution.

In addition to updating the castle, another goal of the project is to instill more cohesion between the 11 museums around the National Mall by establishing more retail, cafe and public gathering spaces. BIG founder and the lead architect Bjarke Ingels believes these additions will “resolve the contradictions between old and new, and [help] to find freedom within the boundaries of strict regulation and historical preservation.”

Ingels plans to execute this by producing new links between the various specialized, planned, operational, and managerial requirements that will usher the Smithsonian South Mall campus into the future, while maintaining its firm historical origin.

The castle as seen from the entrance of the National Museum of African Art.
Image courtesy of BIG / The Smithsonian Institution.

As a whole, the estimated cost of the project is $2 billion, which will be funded by private and federal investments. Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Wayne Clough says, “Bjarke Ingels Group has given us a plan that will…visually attract visitors who will have an unparalleled experience.”

The redesign seeks to establish clear entrances and connections between the site’s various museums and gardens. Image courtesy of BIG / The Smithsonian Institution.
The Smithsonian Castle, which opened in 1855, currently serves as headquarters of the institution as well as a visitor’s information center. The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex. Located in Washington, D.C., the national landmark consists of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. 

For more about the renovation, click here to visit the Smithsonian Institute project profile on the Bjarke Ingles Group website.

Daylight will shine into the visitor center for the first time.
Image courtesy of BIG / The Smithsonian Institution.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Corian® Countertops to Champion Cellphone Charging

Designers, builders and architects, as professionals, we know that no one likes the feeling of having a dying smartphone battery while out in public for the day. One faces the choice of going without a phone for the rest of the day or the hassle of locating an outlet and a spare charger. Needless to say, it’s not convenient to operate without the smartphone to which you are accustomed, in today’s need-to-be-connected world. 

Imagine entering your 3 p.m. meeting with 10 percent of your battery left. You take your seat in the meeting area, place your phone on the counter, and by the time your meeting concludes an hour later, your phone is fully charged. For that, you can thank DuPont!

While smartphone users have weathered rapidly draining batteries and inconvenient locations of outlets, DuPont has heard their cries for help, and brings a remedy of convenience and sheer genius with its newest Corian® solid surfaces.

Image via Engadget

DuPont and Power Matters Alliance (PMA) have joined forces to create wireless charging solutions for our increasingly mobile society by revolutionizing countertops. Wireless chargers will soon be integrated into DuPont™ Corian® solid surfaces as the company’s first consumer electronics venture. Charging pads from Powermat will be embedded under the surface of the countertops and supply power to both smartphones and tablets. Meeting rooms, hospitals, research labs, and a variety of other public and private spaces are among the many predicted sites for charging countertop installations.

Designing a Kitchen with Corian® and Zodiaq®

Though Corian® solid surfaces have been both well-known and integral parts of households for decades, DuPont’s executives are enthusiastic to evolve the product, making it even more functional and practical. “Now we aim to bring this level of performance to new heights, while meeting the emerging needs of industries and consumers to remain powered up throughout the day,” said Ruslan Yusupov, global marketing director of DuPont Building Innovations.

With the convenience factor and more than 30 patterns and colors of Corian® solid surfaces, these countertops may be the perfect fit for a tech-savvy client or even your own office space. An availability date for the charging surfaces has not yet been made public, but for more information, visit PMA.