We tend to think of indigenous Sardinian construction as robust and direct although not particularly refined. This is due in large part to the widely published images of nuraghi, the stone towers that gave name to the Nuragic Era which spanned from about 1800 to 535 BCE. It is believed that at one time there were as many as 20,000 of these constructions of massive, roughly hewn volcanic stone. Their simple geometric forms are iconic in the natural landscape. Of the approximately 7,000 that have survived, many are sufficiently intact to be experienced as buildings.
There is, however, another archetypal form of masonry from the Nuragic Era. This is the precisely cut stonework of the pozzi saccri (sacred wells).Examples include the limestone remains at Perfugas and the reassembled pozzo at the Santa Cristina archeological site, about 115 kilometers from Cagliari. Here, the carefully finished blocks of stone, many non-orthogonal, generate complex geometry both in volume and surface. Built around 1000 BCE, the well itself and the walls that establish its precinct define a construction vocabulary that can be seen in Sardinian architecture for the following 2,000 years; that is emphasizing symbolic building elements by contrasting their high level of finish against a rough background. This may be seen not only in the ceremonial buildings such as churches and tombs, but also in the details of vernacular building. While this device is not unique to Sardinian architecture, there are few other places where a 3,000 year continuum is so clearly seen.
Images 1, 2 Nuraghe, Santa Sarbana
Images 3-5 Nuraghe, Santu Antine
Image 6 Sacred Well, Perfugas
Images 7-15 Sacred Well, Santa Cristina (Image 14, Aperture at top of Tholos – well chamber)
Images 16, 17 Necropolis (cave tombs), Sant Andrea Priu
Image 18 Santa Sarbana
Images 19, 20 Ss Trinita di Saccargia
Image 21 Santa Maria Regno in Andara
Image 22 Duomo di San Nicolo, Sassari
Image 23 Santa Catarina, Sassari
Image 24 Decorated entry, Perfugas
Following up on our previous post: On October 1st, the Bohemian National Hall , at 321 East 73rd Street will host an afternoon and evening devoted to Mies van der Rohe’s recently restored Villa Tugendhat. (more…)
The work of Mies van der Rohe is often viewed as being exercises in purist geometry, dry and mathematical.
Reflections on the Artist: Costantino Nivola. A collection of images from Carl Stein’s recent presentation at the Italian Embassy in Washington DC
It’s not possible to describe Costantino Nivola – Tino – in a few paragraphs or a few pages. His art as well as the sum total of his life have far too much range and depth. Rather than making a futile attempt at comprehensive inclusion, I will try to add texture to his accumulative portrait by sharing some personal recollections drawn from more than thirty-five years of knowing Tino as a mentor, a colleague and a friend.
Elemental is proud to announce that it’s award-winning historic reconstruction of Shepard Hall at The City College of New York is included in the current exhibition on view at the Center for Architecture in New York City as part of the month-long celebration Archtober. The exhibition explores how critical choices and consumption patterns of professionals and building occupants can make positive energy changes in our cities. Shepard Hall was selected as an exemplar of sustainability in historic reconstruction. his is particularly evident in considering the use of Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) as the primary reconstruction material, in lieu of other materials. (more…)
Elemental Architecture, a firm recognized for its pioneering work in sustainable architecture, design and advocacy is pleased to announce that founding principal Carl Stein, FAIA will be delivering a keynote address at the 16th International Congress on GRC in Istanbul, Turkey on September 6, 2011.
The four-day conference brings representatives from twenty nations to share knowledge and advancements in glass fiber concrete technology. Keynote presentations by Elemental Architecture, New York and Foster and Partners, London.
Elemental Architecture’s award winning process for restoring City College’s Shepard Hall, discussed in an in-depth interview with Carl Stein on PROSOCO’s blog, “Green Journey” Shepard Hall Restoration
Robert Bryce’s June 7, 2011 Op-ed in the New York Times “The Gas is Greener” zeros in on a fundamental fault in the logic of depending on solar, wind and other renewables as primary sources of energy. As Bryce correctly points out, generating large quantities of electricity from renewable sources requires vast amounts of natural resources — most notably, land, not to mention the energy and resources expended to collect and distribute that power that could be generated. (more…)
I follow the thin black line.
Drawings by Costantino Nivola
Although Costantino Nivola was an extraordinary draftsman, and for almost ten years had worked as a graphic designer and a professional illustrator, he regarded himself above all as a sculptor, or more precisely a sculptor-builder, heir to the ancient nuraghi builders, faithful to the vocation passed on to him by his mason father. This is why his graphic work has gained little recognition. Yet, it is a body of work of great interest and quality, a cross-section of which is exhibited for the first time: over a hundred works, almost all unpublished. (more…)
In a recent posting on BuildingGreen.com, “Does Saving Historic Buildings Really Save Energy?” Tristan Roberts pointed out a number of benefits that may be realized by the adaptive reuse of older buildings; however, he dismissed the notion that there is value in the energy embodied in these structures. While he is correct in his assertions about the cultural and urban value of historic buildings, he misses the point, or at least part of the point of the value of the energy embodied in those buildings. Despite the fact that there is no way to “recover” the embodied energy in old buildings, if their reuse offsets the need to build replacements, the energy that would have been embodied in those new buildings is saved – avoided cost. (more…)
We highly recommend visiting friend and colleague, James Lewis' Datum International . While relevant in regards to current events, the site also offers valuable insight and is closely connected to Elemental Architecture's goals.
Residential Architect Magazine editor, S. Claire Conroy, writes in the November/December 2010 issue on architects and social media. We offer a response:
Your observations in your piece “Publish or Perish” are well taken and I believe true, however, I would offer that rather than cast online forums such as Facebook and LinkedIn as tools for self-promotion, architects should be using them to assert thought leadership. (more…)
New York (02.09.2011) – Elemental Architecture, a firm recognized for its pioneering work in sustainable architecture, design and advocacy, is pleased to announce that Tom Abraham, Principal & Co-founder has been named to ENR New York | McGraw-Hill Construction’s inaugural “Top 20 Under 40.” The list showcases exceptional A/E/C industry leaders within the region. Abraham’s selection highlights a belief in social entrepreneurship, a commitment to sustainability and progressive uses of social media for education and awareness. (more…)
A Brief Recap of Last Night’s Inaugural AIANY Oculus Book Talk Series with Carl Stein at New York City’s Center for Architecture as reported by Maxinne Rhea Leighton, Assoc. AIA: Carl Stein, FAIA’s Greening Modernism: Preservation, Sustainability and the Modern Movement (W.W. Norton & Company, 11.29.10) offers a compelling and insightful argument for a creative and enthusiastic reexamination of the interconnection between modern architecture, sustainability, historic preservation, and green strategies. (more…)
Carl Stein, FAIA, principal of Elemental Architecture, has been selected to deliver the inaugural lecture for the AIA Oculus Book Talk Series on his recent publication ‘Greening Modernism’ at New York City’s Center for Architecture on Monday, January 10th, 2011 at 6:00pm. (more…)
Last Thursday, December 9th, Elemental hosted the launch party for principal founder Carl Stein’s new book “Greening Modernism”. Tom Stoelker of the Architect’s Newspaper writes: bodacious bourbon pours complimented savory vittles at the yet-to-be-opened Hudson Clearwater in Greenwich Village last night. The restaurant’s first event launched Carl Stein’s new book, Greening Modernism: preservation, sustainability and the modern movement (W.W. Norton, $60.00). (more…)
In Detail> City College’s masterpiece Shepard Hall gets a long-awaited restoration, gargoyles and all. (more…)
This week the AIA New York Chapter / Center for Architecture took over the West 4th Street subway station to present Made in New York – an architectural showcase of projects by Chapter members. Elemental Architecture’s new Private Residence in Croton-on-Hudson is among the work featured in the exhibit. (more…)
Mr. Zeller writes in his NY Times “Green” Blog post “When Green Building Is Not Green Enough” that “the nation’s building stock plays a bigger role in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions than many Americans might realize.” This is only true (a) because many Americans have chosen to ignore information that has been widely available for at least four decades and (b) powerful business and social interests have conducted a massive campaign of misinformation in order to maintain positions of economic and political power.
The LA Times article – http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-urban-green-20100903,0,588562.story – addressing the intersection of affordable housing and sustainable action raises a number of significant challenges as well as highlighting several relatively successful solutions. Unfortunately, two conclusions, stated or implied, interfere with the simplest, most effective short-term strategies for greening our society. (more…)
On July 19th and 20th 1848, the first Women’s Rights Convention was held, resulting in the drafting of the Declaration of Sentiments which became the foundation for the struggle for full equality for women, including the right to vote which was not granted until the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920. The 1848 Convention was held at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, NY.
Elemental is pleased to announce that two projects have been selected for the latest edition of the AIA Guide to New York City. (more…)
The precipitous collapse of St. Vincent’s came as a shock to many, if not most Village residents. It shouldn’t have. Despite the dense obfuscation by the hospital’s administration, there were adequate signs for all to see. While there is little to be gained from finger-pointing, understanding what went wrong offers valuable lessons for addressing future issues facing the Village, other historic districts and communities throughout the City. Land is a finite resource and land within historic districts is a particularly scarce finite resource. Institutions, such as hospitals and schools, which deliver services on a face-to-face basis need space from which to deliver these services. (more…)
New York (06.21.2010) – Elemental Architecture, a firm recognized for its pioneering work in sustainable architecture, design and advocacy, has announced the promotion of Catherine Michelle Black, AIA, LEED AP to Associate. Having joined elemental in 2006, Michelle oversees project teams to define, develop and coordinate issues of programming, design, construction and engineering. Currently, Ms. Black is managing the construction phase of the precedent setting historic reconstruction of Shepard Hall at the City College of New York – the largest project of its kind in the world, as well as the design of a new addition for the Cornell Cooperative Extension Headquarters in Ithaca, New York.
In addition to her architectural experience and skills, Michelle brings to elemental a life-long commitment to social activism. This commitment, which led her to first think about architecture’s place both in nature and the larger human community, has sparked her involvement with a range of organizations and initiatives—from providing art therapy to children at New York City’s Foundling Hospital to meeting with congressional leaders in Washington D.C. to discuss increased homeless services.
Ms. Black received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Kansas with a concentration in Environmental Studies where she was named a Kansas State Honor Scholar and was a recipient of an Undergraduate Research Award for her development of an early online resource created to educate students and professionals about the principles and practices of sustainable design. Her studies also included a fellowship at the Universitaat Stuttgart, Germany to study green architecture as a cultural practice.
elemental is an award-winning New York City based collaborative consisting of Elemental Architecture LLC & Sine Elemental LLC joined by an inherent commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Founded on over 40-years of research and experience in energy-conscious design, current elemental projects include a high-performance addition and renovations to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County, in Ithaca NY; the $150 million Historic Reconstruction of Shepard Hall for the City College of New York; Interior design and identity & media for Greenhouse 26, projected to be New York City’s first ‘green’ boutique hotel as well as several private residential projects throughout New York. elemental is located at 154 West 14th Street, New York, NY 212.616.4110 www.elementalnyc.com
Yesterday, May 31st, commemorated Walt Whitman’s 191st birthday. His modest birth-home, a farmhouse, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Our design of the adjacent interpretative center was conceived to shelter the farmhouse and visitor experience from the bustle of twenty-first century Long Island; the natural and built environments are joined with the presentation of cultural history through a curving cedar wall time-line that starts within the exhibit space and leads across the grounds to a point directly in front of the house where Walt Whitman was born.
In the May 19th issue of the #NYTimes, Alec Appelbaum writes a well positioned Op-Ed piece on the question of green, LEED-rated buildings potentially loosing their luster once in full operation. Mr. Appelbaum essentially promotes the idea of a creating an incentive program for buildings to go beyond LEED certification, a benchmark that many new construction projects can achieve, and that those buildings should receive credits/subsidies to maintain and promote further energy and resource conservation – a position we fully support. (more…)
You are cordially invited to join the Westbeth Artists Housing Association in celebrating its 40th Anniversary and designation as a National Historic Landmark on Monday, May 3, 2010.
In recognition of Earth Day, the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (COTE) annually recognizes the Top Ten Green Projects in the profession. The COTE Top Ten Award is considered by many as the best recognition program for sustainable design excellence. In 2000, the South Jamaica Branch library was honored to have been selected as a winner of this prestigious award. It is one of only five such projects in New York City. It was also the first building designed under the NYC High Performance Building Guidelines. (more…)
Fabrication has begun of the models needed for the production molds for the thin-shell replicas that will replace the deteriorated terra cotta. Together with the previous nine phases, more than 60,000 pieces have been replaced making this by far the largest historic reconstruction of its kind in the world. (more…)
Carl Stein, FAIA will speak as part of the “Modernism by Choice: The Economy, Politics, and Sustainability of Preservation” symposium this Saturday at AIANY Center for Architecture. The symposium is in conjunction with the World Monuments Fund’s “Modernism at Risk” exhibition on view at the Center through May 1, 2010. See here for more information on the exhibit. (more…)
Entry Ramp Takes Shape:
Central to the entry redesign is the reconstruction of the original ground floor entrance. In addition to the salvaged schist stone wall, concrete retaining walls form the stair opening leading down to the original lower level stone arch entry. Earth and gravel fill are compacted to serve as a supporting base for the new concrete stair slab. (more…)
Carl Stein’s article in Renewable Energy World North America ‘Defining Renewable’ segment is available in print and for download now. As Carl concludes: “With remarkable shortsightedness, we have come to believe that the petroleum-era paradigm which was made possible by the availability of plentiful, cheap energy represents the natural order. In fact, it is not sustainable and is tending toward catastrophic results. The shift to renewable energies as our primary resources will reconnect us to the cultural/ethical continuum of humankind; a new paradigm.” (more…)
As construction continues, efforts to utilize the original schist stone entry ramp wall that was recently unearthed continue to make progress. Concrete underpinning (for an explanation of underpinning, click here) along with new steel reinforcement, will allow the original schist stone wall to be incorporated into the new entry design. (more…)
Principal founder of elemental, Carl Stein, FAIA, addressed a gathering of local activists, artists, designers, educators, environmentalists, and planners at the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University last Friday, October 9th. The event sparked an effective and engaging dialogue about the sustainable future of the SUNY campus. (more…)
According to a NYT article, as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlanNYC, a proposal seeks to employ mandatory energy audits of existing structures of 50,000 square feet or more and requires owners to make certain improvements to make the buildings more energy efficient. James F. Gennaro, chairman of the council’s environmental protection committee and a sponsor of the measures, says “Eighty-five percent of the buildings that we have in 2009 are going to be here in 2030.”
Last night, the AIA New York help me write my essay Chapter / Center for Architecture took over the West 4th Street subway station for the opening of their New York Now architecture showcase. Elemental Architecture’s historic reconstruction of New York City Landmark Gothic Revival building, Shepard Hall at the City College of New York, is among the work featured in the exhibit. (more…)
Join us for a Conversation with the Community
Friday, October 9th 2009, 7:30pm-9:00pm
Avram Gallery at Stony Brook, Southampton SUNY
Curated by Carl Stein, FAIA & Marc Fasanella (more…)
Director of long-term planning and sustainability for the Bloomberg Administration Rohit Aggarwala tells an audience at The Urban Green Council (the newly renamed NY Chapter of the USGBC) that the building community now needs to address questions that go beyond a property’s design and construction.
Along with the recently unearthed entry stairs, a major portion of the original entry wall has been unearthed. Following inspection, the team is now evaluating how this remnant of the original entry can be incorporated into the reconstruction. The wall, constructed of Manhattan schist likely from the building site, was buried under fill during a mid-twentieth century alteration. (more…)
On this week’s episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Tony travels to his wife’s homeland of Sardinia. During the episode, the Bourdain family spends time walking through Piazza Sebastiano Satta designed by the late Richard Stein, FAIA (father and partner to elemental founder Carl Stein) and noted Sardinian sculptor Constantino Nivola in 1966. (more…)
Researchers at the University of San Diego’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate and CB Richard Ellis have found that employees who work in green buildings are more productive than their counterparts who work in non-green buildings. Green buildings were defined as those that are LEED-certified at any level or those that bear the Energy Star label.
In the study, researchers Norm Miller, Ph.D., academic director at the Burnham-Moores Center, and David Pogue, national director of sustainability at CBRE, surveyed 154 green buildings nationwide containing over 2,000 tenants, 534 of which participated in the study. The study is the largest of its kind by far; a 2003 study looked at productivity levels in just 33 green buildings. Miller and Pogue used two measurements of productivity: sick days and the self-reported productivity percentage change after moving into a new building.
Forty-five percent of respondents reported that they had experienced an average of 2.88 fewer sick days at their new, green office location vs. their previous non-green office location. An equal amount noted no effect, while 10 percent reported more sick days. The 10 percent that reported more sick days were residents of Energy Star-labeled, not LEED-certified buildings. Unlike LEED buildings, Energy Star buildings do not have air quality requirements.
Based on the average salary of the tenants, an office space of 250 square feet per worker and 250 workdays a year, the 2.88 fewer sick days translate into a net impact of $4.91 per employee, according to the authors.
On the self-reported productivity measure, 12 percent of respondents said that they strongly agree that employees were more productive in green buildings, 42.5 percent agreed that employees were more productive and 45 percent noted no change in productivity. According to the authors’ calculations, the increase in productivity translates into a net impact of $20.82 per employee, based on an office space of 250 square feet per worker and using average salary as an index.
For the full study, go to www.usdrealestate.com.
SOURCE Burnham-Moores Center at the University of San Diego
Carl Stein is interviewed about the history and preservation efforts by elemental at Shepard Hall as part of the College’s Centennial celebration (more…)
As demolition and excavation progress continues for the newly designed building entry, a essay writing services startling discovery: the original entry stairs built in 1907, long believed to have been demolished, are found buried under earthwork fill below the recently removed concrete ramp. (more…)
Today in the Green Inc. blog of the New York Times, a fascinating study by the Harvard Business Review about corporate sustainability being a “key driver” of innovation that also yields real financial rewards rather than extra cost is discussed. We’re still reviewing the study and will contribute our thoughts on it soon.
In today’s New York Times there is a telling article that talks about the ‘soft underbelly’ of LEED. The article observes that many LEED-rated buildings perform well below their projected levels. (more…)
Elemental has been selected as one of five finalist firms for the design of a new kayak pavilion and historic reconstruction of the Red Barn for The Scenic Hudson Land Trust Long Dock Beacon site.
A new report on energy efficiency from McKinsey found that the US alone could save $1.2 trillion through 2020, by investing $520 billion in improvements like sealing leaking building ductwork and replacing inefficient household appliances with new, energy-saving models. The report recommends such items as education about potential energy efficiency savings, more stringent energy codes, efficiency requirements for appliances and stronger financial incentives for making efficiency improvements.
Elemental has been selected to complete the interior design and planning of a new 16,000 sf medical facility in Midtown Manhattan. The charge is to create a multi-tenant facility that is both modern, inviting and sensitive to the patient experience. Stay tuned for design and construction updates.
The 9th & 10th phases of the award-winning historic reconstruction of Shepard Hall at the City College of New York has officially begun. The project, which includes the replacement of nearly 8,000 pieces of failing terra cotta sculpture ornament with new glass-fiber reinforced concrete replacement units and a new main entrance to the building, is expected to be complete by May 2011. (more…)
As the debate over the preservation of what is considered to be Marcel Breather’s last project continues, Carl Stein is mentioned as one of the Library’s creative contributors here. Carl, prior to departing the Breuer office to join his father Richard Stein, FAIA to form The Stein Partnership, served as Project Manager for the building’s design. (more…)
Jones Lang & Lasalle released their white-paper on their spearheaded efforts to make the Empire State Building more energy efficient.
Elemental has been selected as one of five finalist firms to prepare a feasibility study for the replanning of the campus library at SUNY Cortland.
Elemental is featured in Dr. Alexander Stein’s December 2008 column on CNN Money and also as the Fortune Small Business cover story entitled “Fear and the Entrepreneur” .
Co-founders Carl Stein, FAIA, Tom Abraham AIA, and John Barboni are invited jurors for the Masters in Architecture final design studio reviews at the City College of New York School of Architecture.
Carl Stein, FAIA co-founder, is invited to speak on Sustainability & Modernism in Cleveland, Ohio for the closing lecture of the ‘Bauhaus on the Brink’ series.
Elemental is selected as one of five finalist firms to prepare a feasibility study for Page Hall at SUNY Albany
Elemental co-founders Carl Stein, FAIA & Tom Abraham, AIA give tours of the Great Hall at Shepard Hall, The City College of New York. (more…)
Elemental has been selected as one of five finalist firms for the design of two new support facility buildings at the Rockland Psychiatric Center
Carl Stein, FAIA co-founder, is invited to speak on “The Role of Design and Planning” on the ‘Global Warming: Global View, Big Solutions’ panel hosted by the Pelham Green Task Force.
Elemental has been selected as a finalist firm for the re-planning of the Municipal Building for the City of Peekskill, NY
John Barboni, co-founder, is selected by fashion brand Lacoste as one of downtown New York City’s most influential professionals. (more…)
Carl Stein, FAIA, co-founder, is a panelist at New York University Stern School of Business annual Emerging Markets Association Conference. The panel, which includes top business leaders, is titled ‘Sustainability and the Competitive Advantage of Countries and Firms.
John Barboni, Co-Founder, is featured in South Africa’s Top Billing Magazine and primetime television segment as one of New York City’s top creative forces to discuss elemental and sustainable architecture. (more…)
Print Magazine selects elemental as among the best brand and identity developments of 2007 and is included in Print’s Regional Design Annual for New York City. The name and brand identity were developed, incorporating the golden mean, Helvetica typeface, and monochromatic presentation, as informed by a minimalist aesthetic. (more…)
Architect George Post’s neo-gothic confection at City College “would be almost impossible to conceive of today,” says architect Carl Stein, who recently completed a two-decade restoration that uses modern technology and materials while remaining faithful to Post’s artistic vision. (more…)