Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

Green roof sightings in Seoul

Daum Communications / Ilshin Building

Green roof tops Daum Communications / Ilshin Building, Seoul, Korea

Seoul is not known for it eco-friendly building designs, but a couple of buildings I encountered recently, which have significant green roofs, have made me thinks that there may be hope yet for this city.

A Green roof according the Wikipedia:

A green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. This does not refer to roofs which are merely colored green, as with green roof shingles.

The most significant benefit of green roofs are:

  • Reduces cooling cost in the summer
  • Reduces the city’s average temperature
  • Reduces stormwater run off

The best known green roofs are Chicago City Hall, The GAP Headquarters and Ford Motor Company’s River Rouge Plant.

Daum Communications / Ilshin Building

Click image to view slideshow

Yesterday I visited the new offices of Daum Communications, the distant-second-but-nicer-place-to-work Korean portal site (#1 is It is housed in the newly completed Ilshin building in Hannam-dong which is also the home to the Italian embassy. On the roof of the building I was surprised to discover a green roof. The chairman/CEO of Ilshin Spinning, Kim Young Ho, the building’s owner, is no stranger to design and architecture, having graduated with an architecture degree from Pratt in NY, and served on the board of the Korean Institute of Architects and also know for his formidable modern art collection. The anecdote recounted by one of the Daum staff was that he delayed the opening of the staff cafeteria on the 2nd floor of the this building because he was not happy with the design of trays.

ewha Communications / Ilshin Building

Click image to view slideshow

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself at Ewha Womans University (Note: “Womans” is not a misspelling), one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Korea. I was very impressed by their recently completed the Ewha Campus Complex, which was designed by French architect, Dominique Perrault. The building itself unnoticeable at first glance since it is half buried in the ground, but this makes for an impressive green roof.

Dongdaemoon Design Plaza (photo:

Dongdaemoon Design Plaza

Ground was recently broken for Dongdaemun Design Plaza, which replaces the aging Dongdaemoon Sports Complex. The London-based architect Zaha Hadid was awarded the commission following an international competition. The most prominent feature of the design is its fluid surface green roof that weaves and connects the various part of the design.

How Buildings Learn: Seattle Public Library


Central Library, Seattle, USA (Rem Koolhaas, OMA)

How does a public library cope in a digital age? How does a physical space handle a virtual classification system such as the Dewey Decimal system, and continuously changing needs?

In the Seattle Public Library’s Central Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas / OMA, books stacks run in a spiral space AKA The Book Spiral (very cool diagram), with removable numbers in the floor so that the library is flexible enough to “learn” and adapt to new needs.

The library embodies many other noteworthy principles that you can find in OMA’s original 1999 concept book for the library.

It’s a space that exemplifies Stewart Brand‘s notion of “How Buildings Learn”.

More photos.

Photo Break: Congrexpo


Lille Grande Palais/Congrexpo, Lille, France (Rem Koolhaas, OMA)

Photo taken in 1995, shortly after Lille Grande Palais / Congrexpo in Lille, France was completed. Designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA.

America’s Favorite Architecture

AIA\'s America\'s Favorite Architecture website

AIA's America's Favorite Architecture website

The American Institute of Architects (aka the AIA), celebrating its 150th Anniversary, put together a website of America’s favorite architecture. The list was compiled by polling its members. The result is a collection of 150 buildings, bridges, monuments and memorials which users can vote on.

What’s nice is that they have added models to Google Earth, so user can see the location, and see the landmarks in 3D

My personal favorites? (from the list provided by the site)

  1. Grand Central Terminal, New York
  2. The Vietnam War Memorial, Washington DC
  3. Brooklyn Bridge, New York
  4. The Getty Center, Los Angeles
  5. Seattle Public Library, Seattle

Of course, my selections are skewed towards building in New York that have personal significance and buildings I have actually visited.

One glaring omission in my opinion: National Gallery of Art‘s East Building, Washington DC, by I.M. Pei. This building is by far my favorite in Washington DC.

Go and vote!

Projecting Corporate Identity to Retail

iriver booth at CES 2008

iriver booth at CES 2008

I used to live in Fairfax Virginia, about 10 minutes away from Tyson’s Corner Mall. Tyson’s Corner was the mythical location of the first Apple Store which opened in the summer of 2001.

When I first visited the Apple Store in 2001, it was like setting foot inside a gallery: very quiet, uncrowded, with patrons admiring Job’s masterpieces, slowly moving from one item to the next. Just before I left for Korea, I had a chance to visit the NYC 5th Avenue store. It was a madhouse.

However despite the difference in atmosphere, what remained the same in both cases was the consistency of the user experience throughout the store conveyed through the layout, knowledgeable staff and careful choice of architectural materials that furnish each store.

Our experience of a store is first impacted by the materials our senses register. Think of a GAP store compared to a Urban Outfitters store. It’s not surprising that someone took the time to take apart all the materials and furnishing in an Apple store, in case you want to build yourself a shrine to Apple’s retailing success in your living room.

A project that I was peripherally involved in was the iriver booth for CES 2008. iriver, best known in the US for its un-iPod MP3 players and other digital devices, is one of only a handful of companies in Korea that maintains a strict control over its products and branding image, much in the same way that Apple does. VINYL the company I work for (along with 607)was responsible for designing and installing the iriver booth (link in Korean). The team took a lot of care to project a clean, sterile environment and even suggested that iriver hire knowledgeable local fans to man the booth. The booth ended up on the Top 25 Booths as selected by Tech-Em and Event Marketer magazine. The most successful part of the booth in my mind is the interactive projection. When a visitor stand in front of the projection, speech bubble pop up above their shadow and follow them around, showing whimsical graphics. The walls of the booth is actually a screen, so all this interaction can also be viewed from the exterior, drawing curious visitor to come inside.

(Photo credit: Vinyl VLab)