Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Architectural ABC's - Part One

Do you know the origins of these terms?  Although architects may know these terms and even use them often, the history and source of these terms in relation to their modern usage was in fact an interesting journey for me while researching them.  Aside from their alphabetical first letter, there was neither rhyme nor reason as to their selection, other than the etymological ancestry.

ANSUL – A combination from the words Anhydrous Sulfur Dioxide (SO2).  This fire extinguishing chemical is synonymous with any commercial kitchen installation to architects.  The chemical compound was also used as a fruit preservative and refrigerant in earlier years.  The Ansul Company was named as a defendant in a 2005 lawsuit regarding the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.  Don’t spill any of that on the grill.
A typical ANSUL suppression system over a commercial kitchen grill.
Bariatric – From the Greek roots:  bar- (meaning weight); -iatr (meaning treatment); and –ic (pertaining to).  The term originated in 1965 and has in recent years become prevalent in health care architecture regarding patient rooms and spaces for the treatment of obese patients.  Specialized lifts and furniture along with larger spaces for patients are included in “Bariatric Rooms”.  Many facilities provide at least one or two bariatric rooms in each new wing to be built.
Ceiling lifts and the removal of barriers are typically addressed in rooms to serve Bariatric patients.

Caisson – From the French word for ‘box’ or ‘case’, in architectural terminology, a caisson is a deep, drilled footing or foundation system as opposed to a spread footing.  They are used where there is poor soil or high risk of turning due to seismic activity or in very tall buildings.  Maybe it comes from the need to find a big box of money to pay for them.
Cross-section of deep foundations.

Decibel (dB) – Strictly speaking, a decibel is a logarithmic unit used to compare two values of power or intensity.  In architecture this is most commonly sound intensity.  Deci- denotes a factor of one tenth and –bel is used in honor of Alexander Graham Bell, as the term originated to signal loss across telegraph and telephone circuits.
Various sound sources and their intensities.

EPDM rubber – Ethylene propylene diene monomer.  An elastomeric, synthetic rubber perfect for roofing.  Also a good insulator and chemically and thermally stable, it is also used in sealants and gaskets in the automotive and aviation industries.
A sheet of EPDM roofing.

Flue – The opening in a chimney to direct exhaust from a fireplace of some other combustion source.  This term likely comes from Middle English ‘flewe’ meaning a mouthpiece for a hunting horn, or Olde English ‘flowan’ or to flow.  Or both, no one seems to know for sure.
A cross-section of a chimney and flue.

Galvanic action (or corrosion) – This is a chemical process named after 18th Century Italian physician Luigi Galvani.  Galvanic action occurs when one metal corrodes another metal in the presence of an electrolyte.  Salt water or acid rain provides the electrolyte in most architectural corrosive environments.  Architects must be careful in the placement of dissimilar metals if exposed to the exteriors of buildings.  Galvani discovered the process by making dead frog’s legs twitch.
The bolts are a dissimilar and non-compatible material to the metal it is fastening, thus the corrosion.

HEPA filter – High Efficiency Particulate Arresting filters are those that remove 99.97% of particles measuring 0.3 microns from the air passing though.  The original HEPA filter was developed for the Manhattan Project in order to prevent radioactive particles.  Probably didn’t help much when the bombs were detonated in the open air.  It is now a generic term but was a registered trademarked in the 1950’s.
An example of a HEPA filter.  Normally many times thicker than a traditional filter.
Next up:  "I through P"

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Birthday Reminders

Need a reminder to get a birthday gift for that special architect in your life?  Feel free to import into your Outlook calendar.  Included on the right of their names are some of the seminal works, along with some of the photos I have collected along my travels.

Victor Horta                       1.6.1861             Belgian Art Nouveau designer of Hotel Tassel
Julia Morgan                      1.20.1872           American designer of Hearst Castle and estate
Alvar Aalto                         2.3.1898             Finnish International Style designer of Finlandia Hall
Paul Williams                     2.18.1894           African-American designer of the Theme Building at LAX
Loius Kahn                         2.20.1901           American designer of Salk Institute
Kahn - First Unitarian Church of Rochester

Mies Van Der Rohe           3.27.1886           German-American designer of The Barcelona Pavilion
Van Der Rohe - Barcelona Pavilion

Peter Behrens                     4.14.1868           German designer of The AEG Turbine Factory
Julian Francis Abele          4.30.1881           African-American designer of Duke University (then white only)
Behrens - AEG

Benjamin Latrobe              5.1.1764             British-American designer of the US Capitol
Gordon Bunshaft               5.9.1909             American modernist designer of Lever House (and best name ever)
Walter Gropius                  5.18.1883           German (and later American resident) leader of the Bauhaus
Charles R. Macintosh        6.7.1868             Scottish designer of the Glasgow School of Art
Frank Lloyd Wright          6.8.1867             American designer of Fallingwater and Guggenheim
Antonio Gaudi                  6.25.1852           Catalan designer of the Church of the Sagrada Familia
Gaudi - Segrada Familia

Philip Johnson                  7.8.1906             American designer of the Glass House
Inigo Jones                       7.15.1573           English neo-classicist designer of the Queen’s House
Charles Bullfinch             8.8.1763             American designer of University Hall, Harvard
Robert Mills                     8.12.1781           American designer of the Washington Monument
Eero Saarinen                   8.20.1910           Finnish-American designer of Dulles Airport Terminal
Mills - Washington Monument

Sir John Soan                   9.10.1753           English neo-classicist designer of Bank of England
H.H. Richardson              9.29.1938           American designer of Trinity Church, Boston
Le Corbusier                    10.6.1887           Swiss-French designer of Villa Savoye
Christopher Wren            10.20.1632         English designer of St. Paul’s Cathedral
Le Corbusier - Unite d'Habitation, Berlin

Andrea Palladio               11.30.1508         Italian Renaissance designer of Villa Rotunda
Palladio - Villa Rotunda

Gustave Eiffel (Hon.)      12.15.1832         French Engineer making the list for his Tower
Josef Hoffman                 12.15.1870         Austrian designer of Wiener Werkstatte
Oscar Niemeyer               12.15.1907         Brazilian designer of Cathedral of Brasilia
Eiffel - 1889 World's Fair Tower

What struck me in putting this list together, and there are many more who could have been added, was the prolific amount of important architects born between roughly 1860 and 1890.  These men and women shaped much of the 20th Century.  Also, December 15 seems to be a harbinger for greatness.  Seems to me there was one more…