Vertical Cities Exhibition at Yale School of Architecture

(via Yale News)

Vertical Cities,” a new exhibition at the Yale School of Architecture (YSoA), examines some of the most prominent and celebrated skyscrapers, both built and unbuilt, in the context of global urbanization and technological advancement.

Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century, note the exhibition organizers. This increasing urbanization leads to higher density and consequently taller buildings in cities around the world. Every year a greater number of people will be working, living, or spending their free time in a skyscraper, or even in a vertical city — comprised of structures that combine these numerous functions, they note.

This evolution in building and living inspired Rotterdam-based exhibition designer Harry Hoek of M&H Traveling Exhibitions to create the installation “Vertical Cities.” This exhibition gives visitors a look at both realized and imagined efforts by architects from around the world to build towards the clouds.

The exhibition brings together over 200 models made of wood, paper, metal, and plastic at a scale of 1:1000 of the tallest and most well-known skyscrapers. It provides an overview of skyscrapers from the 1920s to futuristic vertical megastructures that have not yet left the drawing table.

Vertical Cities” runs from Nov. 27 to Feb. 3, at the YSoA gallery, located at 180 York St. It is on view Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. –5 p.m. For more information, email

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Yale Architecture Students Build "Vlock House" for Homeless

(via New Haven Independent)

A homeless family will be able to look out onto Adeline Street while cooking dinner and also find privacy in a rock garden, thanks to the design of the latest house Yale architecture students built in New Haven.

Some 200 people came out Monday night to tour and celebrate the new house, the 28th annual home that Yale School of Architecture students have built as part of the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project. This is the first year that a home was designed specifically for the homeless.

The distinctive, many-windowed, pitched-roof modernist house is at 54 Adeline St. in the Hill.

Into it one homeless family and one individual will move next month, sharing a common modernist building with the adjoining units separated by an elegant breeze-way and fronted by a flower-lined path gracing the narrow street.

“Imagine if you were sleeping on a bench last week, and someone gave you keys to your own place [like this],” said Columbus House Chief Executive Officer Alison Cunningham.

54 Adeline, unveiled Monday night. (Photo credit: Allan Appel Photos)

School of Architecture Dean Deborah Burke said when she arrived she had wanted to “deepen” the Vlock Project. That took the form of a partnership with Columbus House, the city’s lead organization in the struggle to end homelessness.

The Valentine Macri Court houses, 17 units of affordable housing also managed by Columbus House, are adjacent to what was an empty lot, and on which 54 Adeline now rises.

Cunningham interacted with the students, brought them to the neighborhood, had them talk with homeless people, all to inform what they were going to build.

Then 53 students in six teams competed for a winning design. When it was chosen, all 53 learned teamwork by helping to fashion most of the components of the house not on site but as prefabricated elements put together in a warehouse on Yale’s West Campus. That was in June and July.

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Virtual Reality, A Tool for Conservation?

(via Yale Environment 360)

Could Virtual Reality (VR) — immersive digital experiences that mimic reality — save the environment?

Well, that may be a bit of a stretch. But researchers say that it could perhaps promote better understanding of nature and give people empathetic insight into environmental challenges.

“Virtual reality can give everyone, regardless of where they live, the kind of experience needed to generate the urgency required to prevent environmental calamity,” says Jeremy Bailenson, professor of communication at Stanford University.

Bailenson’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) this year released a short VR documentary and an interactive VR game that seek to explain the issue of ocean acidification, the process by which excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dissolves in the ocean, making it more acidic and less healthy for ocean life.

As Bailenson notes, “One of the greatest challenges to staving off irrevocable climate change isn’t simply getting buy-in from skeptical politicians – it’s getting people to visualize how driving a gas-guzzling car or living in an energy inefficient home is contributing to a problem that may only manifest itself completely in future decades.”

Link to a video – Stanford Virtual Reality, Ocean Acidification

Many environmental issues are complex and difficult to explain fully. Phenomena like climate change, ocean acidification, extinction, and glacier erosion are especially challenging to illustrate, either because they’re happening in slow motion or because they’re evolving in remote places that few people see, or both.

Virtual reality solves many of these problems, Bailenson says. With the proper software, video feed and VR headset, just about anyone might be able to experience environmental change in the Amazon, the Arctic, or even under the ocean.

When I take my ocean acidification dive, I jump off from Palo Alto, California.

One minute, I’m in a high tech virtual reality (VR) lab at Stanford University, standing on a “haptic” floor of aeronautic aluminum that can move and vibrate to simulate the feeling of movement, encircled by speakers that can immerse me in sound, and by cameras that can track my every move, where I look, how and where I turn my body.

The next minute, I put on the VR headset and suddenly I’m in Italy, near the northern end of the Gulf of Naples, on a jetty that extends from a volcanic island called Ischia. To say it looks and feels idyllic would be an understatement: The sun glints off the waves and bright primary color boats bob in the harbor. On the island, pastel stucco houses stair-step up toward a gray, crenelated castle. Above water, everything seems lovely.

Then I’m underwater. The sea around Ischia, it turns out, provides a perfect place to show people the contrast between a healthy ocean and an acidified one: In one part of the harbor, colorful schools of fish rush past me. Sea grasses undulate. Eel squiggle by brilliant coral reefs. Along the bottom potter various species of sea snail.

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