Friday, September 26, 2014

3D Printing Enters New Phase in Building NY Estate

3D printing grows by leaps and bounds and the applications for the technology spread
to new areas each month.  The latest test of the printers' limits is coming in Gardiner, New York, where a giant industrial printer is building all the elements of an estate, including an in-ground pool, its accompanying pool house, and a luxurious 2400 square foot 4-bedroom house.  New techniques include shaping, cutting and incorporating steel rebar into the buildings' structure.  The builder compares the use of 3D printing in construction to the evolution of sound recording, saying that the first construction printer of 11 years ago was like an Edison wax cylinder, and now it is like a Victorola.  The machine used to build this estate is analogous to a 1960s hifi stereo, and  in a year or two it will be up to the iPod stage in sophistication.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
3D Print

Link to article:

Excerpt: "We have covered a lot of news concerning the 3D printing of houses, over the course of the last year or so. Whether it was the 3D printed castle that Andrey Rudenko has constructed in Minnesota, the 3D printed salt house that Emerging Objects has built, or one of the many other projects that have been taking place around the globe, the technology is only making small waves among the construction industry.

None of these projects come close to that, which well known New York City Architect and Contractor Adam Kushner, and partners James Wolff, and Enrico Dini have planned and already have begun to undertake in Gardiner, New York. Kushner, who runs KUSHNER Studios and In House Group in New York City, has over 25 years of experience in the construction industry. His company has designed and constructed buildings in Manhattan as large as 80,000 square feet in size, and he, as well as his company, has been featured on shows such as Fox News, BBC Home, and Celebrity House Hunting.
'About a year and a half ago, I started to become immersed in 3D printing,” Adam Kushner told “I said, ‘OK, who’s doing this on the construction level?’  That is where I see the future. I don’t care about the toys or the games or the little things people are doing on their desktops. What I really saw, was the bigger potential for 3D printers in the construction industry. That is a trillion dollar business, and it changes the paradigm of how we build.'
 Kushner found a man named Enrico Dini, who is quite well known in his own right, for the invention of his extremely large 3D printer, capable of printing out large structures and buildings. Dini owns and operates a company called D-Shape, as well as a patent for a magnesium-based binding process that the 3D printer uses. The process combines sand or other materials with a magnesium-based binder to create stone-like objects.

Kushner told Dini that he wanted to bring his 3D printers, and the process in which they print with, to America, in hopes of using them for a few truly unique construction projects. Dini informed Kushner that he had been talking with a man named James Wolff about opening a potential business for D-Shape in America. Kushner contacted Wolff, the two hit it off, and to make a long story short, they decided to create D-Shape Enterprises New York. Wolff, is the co-founder of Deep Space Industries, which won two major NASA contracts for the asteroid mission and now has an office at Ames.

Just this past June, Kushner flew over to Italy to meet with Dini. The two agreed to ship one of these large 3D printers back to New York, and it is scheduled to arrive in January of 2015. From there, Kushner, Wolff and their team of workers plan to begin 3D printing what will undoubtedly be the single most amazing 3D printing project ever undertaken. Surprisingly, Kushner has no doubts that he will successfully accomplish it.

'There are people who design. There are people that build. There are people that design and build,' said Kushner. 'Rarely do the two come together. And although Design-Build firms certainly exist, we have the rare niche in that we are designers who are very good at building, as opposed to contractors that happen to have an architect on staff.' This is where Kushner believes he has an advantage over all of the other projects that have been attempted, and to varying degrees, succeeded or failed.

The massive project that KUSHNER Studios will be undertaking, is for the 3D printing of an entire estate in Gardiner, New York. It will feature an in-ground swimming pool, a pool house, and a 2400 square foot, 4 bedroom home. If accomplished, like Kushner undoubtedly believes, it will go down in history as perhaps the most innovative project that brought 3D printing into mainstream construction – which if successful it undoubtedly will do."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Don't Get Bent Out of Shape When Your iPhone 6 Does

It has only been five days since the gala release, and yet the complaints are already streaming in.  One of the drawbacks of creating a bigger, thinner, lighter iPhone with an all-metal case has just come to light.  When users of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models stuff their phones into their pockets as they are used to doing with previous models, they just might pull the phone out and find that the case has taken on a few unwanted bends and curves.  No official response from Apple yet, but some are suggesting a stiff, thick case might ameliorate the problem (and eliminate one of the new model's primary selling points in the process, it's thin, graceful, lightweight body).

Hunter Communications Original News Source:

Link to article:

Excerpt: "When the world uses an iPhone for a few days, bad things start to pop up. As much research as Apple puts behind a product, there is still no accounting for real world problems (you can make your jokes about real world problems and Apple products in the comments section below, thanks). With the iPhone 6, a bit of compromise in the metal seems to be the culprit here, even attracting a few hashtags.

It centers around folks having their new, skinny iPhone 6 in-pocket, only to pull it out later and find it bent. The thin aluminum frame and pliable glass is clearly no match for your skinny jeans and baseball-bat-hard femur.

Aluminum is a pretty soft metal, too. It ranks about 2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, ranging from 2 to 2.9. That’s about as strong as gold. Or copper. When you start making it thin, then cutting out space for volume or power buttons, it compromises the integrity of the metal.

Sling a delicate, thin, straight-as-a-board phone to your flexible, strong hips via material that won’t give, and things are bound to go wrong. And if you think it's happening really easily, it's not. Take a look at some of the pics peppering the post, and watch this video."

Monday, September 22, 2014

Long "Cheesecake Factory"-style Menus Going Out of Fashion in US

Having a college-textbook-sized menu has been a bragging point for American restaurant chains.  If a patron could browse through dozens of pages of choices, he could certainly find just the dishes he was in the mood for.  

But now, growing sophistication and sharpening tastes has led diners to seek out more sharply focused menus, and to begin to doubt that a restaurant that tries to do everything can do anything right.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Washington Post

Link to article:

Excerpt: "For years, long, winding menus were the fad. The more options a restaurant offered, the less likely that diners would want to go elsewhere, the thinking went. And the thinking was widespread: Everywhere from Ruby Tuesday to the Olive Garden and McDonald's obliged, channeling their inner Cheesecake Factory with menus that spanned several continents and cuisines, challenging even the sturdiest attention spans.

But Americans are finally growing tired of all the clunky, and often confusing, food lists. And restaurants seem to be taking note...

In all, the country's 500 largest restaurant chains have cut more than seven percent of food items offered this year, per estimates by food industry research firm Technomic. 'Across all mealparts, casual-dining chains are reducing menus,' Technomic said in a report from June.

Slimming down menus can be a fairly straightforward way for restaurants to cut costs. By offering fewer items, eateries can more easily standardize food quality, avoid the waste from estimating demand for longer lists of foods and, presumably, boost their profit margins — either by charging more or spending less.

'There are a lot of cost issues inherent in long menus,' said Maeve Webster, a senior director at Datassential. 'Right now, for example, protein prices have been more volatile than at almost any other time. Waste can be costly.'

But the biggest impetus for all the menu shrinking going on is likely tied to a change in the country's food culture: Americans are becoming a bit more refined in their tastes.

'Historically, the size of menus grew significantly because there wasn't the food culture there is today,"' said Webster. 'People weren't nearly as focused on the food, or willing to go out of their way to eat specific foods.'

For that reason, as well as the fact that there were fewer restaurants then, there used to be a greater incentive for restaurants to serve as many food options as possible. That way, a customer could would choose a particular restaurant because it was near or convenient, rather than for a specific food craving (which probably wasn't all that outlandish anyway). But now, given the increasing demand for quality over quantity, a growing appetite for exotic foods and a willingness to seek out specialized cuisines, Americans are more likely to judge a restaurant if its offerings aren't specific enough."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Harvey House in LA's Union Station to Reopen as a Gastropub

One of Los Angeles' most revered architectural treasures, the landmark Harvey House in Union Station may get a reverent makeover in the lead-up to its second life as a trendy gastropub.  The dining chain that made its home in the nation's railroad palaces was so posh in its day that its "Harvey Girl" waitresses became the subject of a Judy Garland film. 

Now the restaurant, whose carefully preserved interior has been used only for photographic and film shoots in recent years, may be opened again to the public in the  coming year, courtesy of the red-hot downtown Spirited Group.  If approved, the restaurant will join Spirited's other popular downtown offerings like Broadway Bar, Cole's and Seven Grand.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:

Link to article:

Excerpt: "The historic Harvey House in Union Station hasn't been occupied by a restaurant since it closed its doors in 1967. But now, a new gastropub from the guys who brought to downtown joints like Cole's and Seven Grand is in the works to fill the space.

Metro's blog, The Source, reported today that the Metro Board of Directors are deciding this month on whether to give Cedd Moses and Eric Needleman of Spirited Group the lease on the place, now dubbed the Fred Harvey Room. If the board approves the lease at its Oct. 2 meeting, then the duo, who are also known for other ventures like Broadway Bar, the Golden Gopher and Casey's Irish Pub, will get to open shop. It would take an estimated several months to a year for the restaurant to open—and the renovations would be done under the watch of an architectural historian.

The original Harvey House was owned by Fred Harvey and designed by Southwestern architect Mary Colter. Known for its fine dining and female servers, it even inspired the 1946 film, The Harvey Girls, starring Judy Garland. The prestige of the Harvey girls who waited tables was on par with something like PanAm stewardesses."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Abercrombie and Fitch Ditching logos to Win Back Teen Market

Back in the "bigger is better", "greed is good" 80s, styles dictated big bold logos and branding on apparel.  The more exclusive and chic the brand, the more consumers clamored to wear their logo blazoned across their chest, bag, jeans pocket or sneaker. Then came the grunge 90s, and soon big logos went the way of the dodo bird.  

Now twenty years later, we're seeing a similar scenario play out in the field of juniors and teen apparel, as the violent swing of the pendulum away from big visible logos is making giant retailers like A&F reconsider their entire strategy. In the next year or so, expect to see a lot LESS Abercrombie, Hollister, and A&F branding on the corporation's clothing lines.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Wall Street Journal

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Abercrombie's merchandise margins have fallen from about 67% in 2007, according to analysts at Cowen & Co. The company's goods are still priced higher than those at fast fashion retailers. A typical Abercrombie dress sells for $58, compared with $14.95 at H&M, according to Cowen.

Abercrombie is speeding up its supply chain so it can better capitalize on hot trends. Mr. Jeffries said the move has started to pay off with improving sales during the back-to-school period.

The company has also moved to take costs out of its clothing, which has enabled it to reduce its prices and better compete with some of the fast-fashion chains.

For now, the phasing out of logo gear is weighing on sales. Mr. Jeffries said the company halved its logo business for the fall season.

'A few years ago, all the girls wore their Abercrombie and Hollister T-shirts, but now my friends don't wear them as much,' said Micayla Lubka, a 20-year-old student from Wisconsin. Logos are still OK if they are understated, like those on shirts by Vineyard Vines or Polo Ralph Lauren, she added.

Once considered must-have items, products bearing logos have been broadly relegated to the discount bin as consumers clamor for merchandise that relies more on design details like ruffles or trim. Brands ranging from Louis Vuitton to Michael Kors to Coach have moved to limit their logo offerings. But logos will continue to be part of Abercrombie's business in Europe.

While heavier promotions in the period weighed on margins, Abercrombie executives said they expected better pricing traction in the second half because inventory levels will be lower. Merchandise inventories fell 13% in the second quarter, and the company expects inventory to be down by double digits at the end of the third quarter."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Google "Easter Egg" is Targeted to Typography Junkies

Google seems to have a soft spot in its virtual heart for the typographers of the world.  After astute eyes noticed such subtle changes as a one-pixel shift in the kerning of Google's logo last spring, the tech giant has given us all a treat in the form of an "Easter Egg" of a typographic surprise.See how Google search results can give you an impromptu lesson in kerning.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Search Engine Land

Link to article:
Google Kerning Easter Egg Plays Tricks With Typography

Excerpt: "Google UK’s Peter Far found an Easter Egg designed specifically for hardcore typography fans.
If you search for [kerning] in one tab, and [typography kerning] in another, you’ll notice a little extra space between the lettering on the [kerning] search results page.
Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz put together the following animated image to show the Easter egg in action:"
(Check out the difference in kerning on the two pages...)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Waterfall Skylight for Wilshire Grand Tower Survives Cost-cutting

By almost any measure, the new Wilshire Grand Tower slowly rising along downtown Figueroa from Wilshire to 7th Street is spectacular and superlative.  When it is completed in 2017 its 1100 foot tower will make it the tallest US skyscraper west of Chicago, and it will house 900 hotel rooms and 400 thousand square feet of office space. but one of the most spectacular elements in the design is for a swoopy, sloping skylight that cascades down 60 feet between the tower and the adjacent plaza-level building. But in the bottom line environment of big-league real estate construction, could such an extravagant gesture make it past the money people?  It took innovation, technology and thinking outside the box the keep the Yosemite-inspired skylight in the building plans.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Massive Skylight would be skyscraper's signature element, but at what cost?

Excerpt: "The design for the New Wilshire Grand featured a plaza, a high-rise tower and a secondary building, known as the podium, housing a restaurant, a pool and ballrooms.

Connecting the elements became the challenge.

One plan included an ambitious Guggenheim Museum-like rotunda. Another tried extending the tower's facade over to the podium. Neither worked.

Finally, in the winter of 2012, Martin hit upon a skylight, a sweep of glass that unified the space and created an atrium where guests entered the hotel.

Jow said the solution was elegant and dramatic — a eureka moment that thrilled the design team. Then reality struck.

Borland and Aspis had to protect the budget and started to question the complexity of the design.

Martin's early vision, rendered by computer, included convex and concave curves that required individual panels of glass to be custom-bent, an especially costly process.

Seismic tests also determined that the structure would have to move 15 inches — side to side between the tower and the podium — in the event of a major earthquake, and it would have to be restrained from lifting up in a windstorm. No one was certain if it could be engineered.

Then there was the question of how it would be cleaned. “ In the eyes of estimators and contractors, anything square is better. The fact that we had something lyrical and poetic in the design is a conflict in their minds. ” - Tammy Jow Share this quote

One design suggested two catwalks 3 feet wide for cleaning crews, but the structures encroached on the view. Another recommended trapdoors, but they detracted from the appearance.

As other costs on the project rose, the skylight became a target.

"In the eyes of estimators and contractors, anything square is better," Jow said. "The fact that we had something lyrical and poetic in the design is a conflict in their minds."

That's not the way Borland saw it.

"The difficulty is that the client has a vision for the project that isn't in keeping with the budget," he said. "And the design team always wants more."

The budget for the skylight was cut in half to $1.5 million, Jow said, and that was before cost estimates came in for the steel and its design: more than $5 million. And the custom glass panels would add more.

To ease tensions within the team, Jow deferred further discussion until she and the designers could answer the most persistent complaints.

She and designer Joseph Varholick traveled to Europe to learn about a process in glass design known as cold-bending. Instead of heating glass to shape it, fabricators contort the cold glass slightly, then snap it into frames that have been engineered to hold the shape.

Huddling at his computer, Varholick calculated that with 475 glass panels, the skylight would have the sweep and grandeur that Martin had called for. And each of the panels would be essentially flat, bending no more than three-quarters of an inch.

Varholick's work helped ensure that the glass would cost no more than $2 million.

Jow's team took its findings to the engineers and budget managers. The designers thought they were making headway, only to discover later that the skylight was still listed for elimination.

Martin tried to hold fast. The skylight was a defining stroke. Still, he grew so frustrated that he yanked the skylight from the plans.

As Jow explained, he was tired of being second-guessed by cost managers who 'would prefer to drop in a plaster, stucco box at the front door.'

'Any designer would be insulted,' she said.

Martin even presented an alternative: an open-air trellis much like the Lath Palace at the Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park. But priced out, that idea saved no money.

So he took the issue to cousin Chris, who has the authority to set budget guidelines for the project. He knew it was a gamble, but the debate needed to be settled. Chris could either vote against the feature or make a concession.

Eventually Chris agreed that the skylight would remain but with one stipulation. With the glass already priced at $2 million, he insisted that the steel and its design cost no more than $5 million.

The design team then reconsidered the structural beams that supported the skylight. They curved as they followed the contour of the podium and tower.

After studying the elevations and cutaways, the designers realized that the beams would not need special fabrication to flow between the buildings.

The same effect could be achieved for less money with straight pieces, segmented to follow the curves of the structures.

The solution was a breakthrough. By Jow's estimate, it saved about $500,000 and ensured that the steel would come in under budget.

Shortly afterward, engineers were able to devise an attachment that allowed the skylight, fixed to the podium, to move on the tower side during an earthquake. And to support cleaning crews, they added ring hooks in the tower and made the glass thicker to withstand up to 300 pounds.

Last Tuesday, the project's engineers, architects and managers gathered for their weekly meeting.

Martin and Jow were eager to discuss the skylight. They had talked over the weekend and decided that they had found the least expensive and best solution. They wanted it approved.

And at last, it was — 21 months after Borland first saw the plan.

For $6.5 million, the New Wilshire Grand will have its river of glass."

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hollywood Studies Project to Build Park on Top of 101 Freeway

One of the worst effects of freeways in urban areas is how they create an almost river-like barrier that bisects neighborhoods. Nearby residents rarely feel like walking overpasses to get to the other side, and only major streets that cross the freeway connect the two sides at all.

But now a new park idea hopes to unite Hollywood by building a big 38-acre green space complete with trails, bandshells, bikepaths and cafes directly on top of the 101 Freeway from Bronson to Santa Monica Boulevards. This area, where the freeway travels along a below street-level path, would be covered over and planted with lawns, paths, trees and gardens. If the initial feasability studies are approved, the park could be complete sometime in the next ten or fifteen years.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:

Link to article:
Work Begins to Put Huge Park on Top of the 101 in Hollywood

Excerpt: "Get excited Hollywood, because you are one step closer to having a huge park on top of the 101 Freeway. Friends of Hollywood Central Park, the group spearheading the plan, has finally gotten started on the first official step—environmental review process—according to a statement: 'This brings us one big step closer toward achieving the long-held dream of building this much-needed park in the heart of Hollywood,' says the executive director. The 38-acre park would run over about a mile of highway, from Santa Monica Boulevard to Bronson Avenue, and hopefully 'create a street-level urban park that reunites communities separated by the Hollywood Freeway more than sixty years ago.'"

The notice about the environmental review says the park will be open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, with potential features including 'pedestrian meadows, small retail facilities (such as bike shops, seasonal markets, and art galleries, restaurants, an amphitheater, a community center, playgrounds, dog parks, and interactive community areas.' Development of the park is expected to go in phases, from north to south, starting above Sunset with 'an amphitheater, parking, terraces, restaurants, a bed and breakfast inn, a grass area, and a dog park.' Whoa. The environmental process kicks off on September 6 with a public scoping session to collect ideas on what people want to see reviewed."