Architecture Monday

August 20, 2018

Let’s fly back to the future tonight.  To 1962.  To a building that looks very much like it’s going to take flight.  One that both ushered in a new era of air travel and has lost no power in its experience so many decades later.

Soaring, sinuous, sensual concrete that soars, emerging from the ground and arcing seamlessly into forms that very much evoke outstretched wings.  This is the greatest magic of the building, these curving forms that never cease and make for an enclosure that blurs the distinction between floor, wall, and ceiling, punctuated by ribbons of skylights that, coupled with the ginormous windows, belie any weighty feel of the concrete it is made of.  Lofty is an apt term, and walking in it pulls you forward, urging exploration and hinting at the adventure to come.

How each form blends into each other is the second magic.  A railing becomes a column column becomes a seat becomes a check in desk becomes a sign.  Natch, there’s something enticing of the classic 60’s décor and aesthetics, but this is a building that transcends simple nostalgia.  The design is expertly handled; all those merging lines and curves could have very easily become a right and confusing mess of visual clutter.

But let’s not totally discount that great furniture and décor.  Purpose built to fit in, the red upholstery contrasts strikingly with the white marble inlays in the concrete.  We’d call it retro-future now, and it’s still great.

Definitively a classic, one of the great designs of the world.  Fortunately, it has avoided the fate of closure and is in the midst of being reinvented as a hotel, due to open next year.  When next I’m in NYC, I’ve got to visit.

The TWA Flight Center/Terminal, by Eero Saarinen.

(Of interesting additional note: this was also the first air terminal to incorporate many of what we’d consider just par for the course these days — jetways, public address system, electric schedule board, even baggage carousels…)



Coaster Thursday

August 16, 2018

New coaster announced for Canada’s Wonderland for 2019… and it’s pretty darn good looking dive coaster:

A few superlatives there, including tallest and fastest dive coaster, but beyond that it’s seems to have a nice swooping layout that includes a gaggle inversions.  I think it’s nifty how the coaster intersects with (the great!) Vortex; that and the water should make for a memorable first drop — well, even more memorable given the 90 degree incline with stare-down time!  Alas, like most of the coasters at Wonderland, it’s a short one.

Looking at the off-ride view, though, are… some of those inversions taller than the mountain?  Egads!  As I noted before, back in the early days (and my younger years) that mountain seemed TOWERING, it still feels so strange to me to have it now being lorded over by several of the coasters.

Overall this is looking like a good add.  It’s still been years since I’ve visited the park, so this is another good push for me to try and get out there again!


Wonder Wednesday

August 15, 2018

Step one:  Head to this website:  http://koalastothemax.com/

Step two:  Begin mousing over

Step three:  Keep mousing over!

Step four:  Boggle and be amazed

Step five:  Smile uncontrollably


Philosophy Tuesday

August 14, 2018

Three umpires were at the bar one night, discussing the art of umpiring.

The newly minted umpire spoke first.  “It’s pretty clear.  There’s a box, and if the ball is in the box it’s a strike; if the ball is out of the box it’s a ball.  I call it like it is.”

“Ah yes,” replied the second, one who’d had a few seasons tucked under his mask.  “It does seem like that so often.  But then who knows, pitches can do crazy things and a bit of wind in your eye can mess you up even more.  I’ve realized that the best I can ever do is to call it like I see it.”

After taking a pull on his drink, the revered veteran umpire smiled.  “Friends.  Balls an’ calls come an’ go.  Like it is, like I see it, truth is… they ain’t nothin’ ‘till I call ‘em.

— with inspiration from Bill Klem


(and nothin’ that ever happened to or around us aint’ ever anythin’ to us until ya/we call ‘em…)


Architecture Monday

August 13, 2018

Ok, this one is part 2001 Monolith, part sculpture, and part security agency super secret scary dark cube. 

In actuality, it is a data centre in Coviha Portugal, one that embraces its blank box nature to create something striking.  It’s got two main bits:  that slate-like solid that houses all the servers as efficiently as possible and a more sinewy support building that surrounds the box to house offices, IT rooms, and various support functions.  Compared to the featureless nature of the box, the support building is ensconced in glass and covered with a cooling pond that doubles in duty as a reflecting garden.  A garden of actual trees and solar panels surrounds the site.

It’s always great to see a project (and a company!) that takes what is often ignored and relegated to blank banality and instead elevates them, recognizing that function doesn’t need to compromise spirit, and that all that we build has an impact on our quality of our towns and lives.


Wonder Wednesday

August 8, 2018

Chip and Dale — in dinosaur costumes!


10000% adorbs.  Gotta see this in person sometime!


Philosophy Tuesday

August 7, 2018

Some time ago I heard a story about AI research.  The researchers had set up a neural net and busily spent their days entering “facts” into the computer.  Each night, the computer would chew on these “facts” and spit out what it figured out, essentially spitting out its interpretation of how, and what, the world was.

One morning, it declared, “All people are famous.”

To the researchers, this was a puzzle — until they realized that they’d begun entering information about people into the system and that, thus far, they’d only chosen and entered “notable” individuals.

To the computer/AI, it made clear, perfect, logical sense.  It only knew of famous people.  Thus, everyone must be famous.

While I don’t think it was their intention, the researchers built a pretty good example of how our own brains work.

Though sometimes we are admonished to “read between the lines,” our brains are always doing just that.  They take all the vast amounts of information that comes in, parses it, organizes it, and looks for patterns… and then goes even further beyond to look for logical truths.  “If such is such, and such is also such, then it follows that…”

To once again quote the great Carl Sagan: “The brain does much more than just recollect, it inter-compares, it synthesizes, analyzes, it generates abstractions.”

Abstractions, deductions, and truth/realities that totally fit with whatever knowledge and experience it has at that point in time.

This is all great, except that we don’t know our brains have done that.  And that from thereon out, our brains will filter our new experiences and observations through that truth it already knows, even hiding things from our consciousness.  And even more so that we will take many actions based on all those, quite potentially flawed, deductions.  Sometimes it will work out.  Sometimes our actions will be downright unproductive.

Thanks to that triple whammy, it can be tough for our patterns and predictions to get updated with new knowledge and experiences that, should at least, be coming in all the time.  If we’re lucky, a different logical deduction will emerge and compete with an old one such that they balance each other out.  Or we may get a half-update, where the brain still partially holds onto the vestige view, ready to jump back to it at the earliest “confirmation.”

In moments of our most desperate want, deductions can collide to create twisted logics of epic proportions, with epic(ally poor, often) results.

But by stepping back and choosing to go into a series of inquiries to do some heavy re-examination, we give our brains a chance to go back to the primordial and recalculate.  By taking ownership of our views and deductions and realities we gain agency to revise them.  We can come up to date with our stories so that they are in line with where we are today and where we want to go, crafting them so that they serve us well.

Then we can show those AIs how its really supposed to be done…