Design

A Slight Exaggeration

by Don Friedman on January 20, 2018


Those are the columns at the first floor of a seven-story concrete-frame industrial. building from the 1920s. They are roughly three feet in diameter and spaced at twenty feet on center.

When that percentage of floor area is occupied by columns, they are intrusive and affect everything that might be done with the space. If you play up the column size and play down the spacing, it becomes truly claustrophobic, as was used to great effect in Brazil:


An Iron Appendix

January 16, 2018

That’s a photo of an areaway in London. The wall on the right is the building and I’m standing at the corner of the areaway. The black coping along the left is on top of the curb that’s an extension of the areaway’s outboard wall, extending above the sidewalk. If I had to guess, I’d […]

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Aslant

January 8, 2018

That’s the ceiling – which appears to be the structural roof – at the north entry to the Whitehall Street station on the R/W. Specifically, this is the stair leading down from the entry mezzanine to the platform. The excavated volume of space is a sloped rectangular prism, with the roof following the slope. The […]

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A Possible Example of the Design Fallacy

January 2, 2018

There’s an idea that’s been floating around for decades – I actually forget where I first encountered it – called the Design Fallacy. This fallacy is based on the idea that “designed” is better than “undesigned” and that more design is better than less design. Examples of it are always objects where the external design […]

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Theory Imposed on Reality

December 15, 2017

That’s a fine, very-short-span bridge in the Ramble in Central Park. Honestly, it feel ridiculous to call it a bridge when the space below it resembles, more than anything else, a door, but what else could it be? One pedestrian path crosses over another, and a wall of large ashlar blocks has a hole in […]

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“The Bridge”

December 5, 2017

Some great construction photographs of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge: here. I’ve worked on a few pedestrian bridges in the last thirty years and one dam, but that’s it: otherwise my projects have all been buildings. But bridges occupy a chunk of my brain and always will because of their nature as expressed engineering. There are a […]

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Everything In A City Is Manmade – Even The Water

November 30, 2017

Continuing with yesterday’s theme… New York is located on two medium-sized islands (Manhattan and Staten Island), a portion of a large island (Brooklyn and Queens are the west end of Long Island), a piece of mainland (the Bronx) and a whole bunch of small islands in the surrounding waterways. Those waterways include small streams (e.g., […]

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Everything In A City Is Manmade

November 29, 2017

Another great article from Karrie Jacobs, this one on Prospect Park: here. I’m not even going to attempt to summarize it. You should read it because it’s a fascinating look at how parks in New York have developed over the last 150 years. Jacobs’s painstaking descriptions of the work that went into the creation of […]

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Expounding on a Neat Trick

October 30, 2017

I talked a bit about this type of detail recently but I was surprised to learn that I hadn’t posted these pictures. This is a middle-third of the 1800s tenement in Hell’s Kitchen that was built with retail space on the first floor. The wood joists of the floors and roof span left to right, […]

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Different Types of Efficiency

October 19, 2017

I seem to keep coming back to train station roofs as I write. That’s happening partly because I travel by train a good amount so I’m looking at those roofs, and partly because they tend to have exposed structure designed by engineers with little or no separate architectural design, which may not make them beautiful […]

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