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Chuck Allen, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Why the Empire State Building Sends a Father’s Day Card Every Year

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Chuck Allen, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

When the Empire State Building was completed on April 11, 1931, it immediately became one of the most celebrated pieces of architecture in the world. But a few years before it became one of the most iconic edifices in history, the Reynolds Building was wowing visitors to Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Chuck Allen, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0 // Getty

The 22-story building, designed by the Shreve & Lamb architectural firm, opened in 1929 to serve as the headquarters of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The unique design, including the use of setbacks, led the National Association of Architects to deem it “Building of the Year.” Whether it was the result of the accolades or simply a matter of refining an already great blueprint, Shreve & Lamb were inspired to submit a similar design on a much larger scale when they were asked to draw up plans for a new skyscraper in New York City.

The staff at the Empire State Building knows all about their skyscraper’s southern origins. And, as any good offspring does, they make sure the Reynolds Building receives a lovely Father’s Day card from the Empire State Building every June. (But would it kill them to call once in a while?)

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High-Tech Skyscrapers Could be Built with Low-Tech Wood
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iStock

When we think of wood construction, we often think of log cabins, tree houses, or the framework of residential properties. But if a new start-up has its way, we might soon be gazing up at 12-story buildings made almost entirely out of Douglas firs.

In a report for CityLab, journalist Amanda Kolson Hurley profiled Portland, Oregon's Lever Architecture, a firm attempting to revitalize wood-based towers that reduce the carbon footprints of conventional buildings. Their offices are located in a four-story property made from wood; their next major project, titled Framework, is expected to be 12 stories and slated to debut in Portland in 2019.

Part of Lever’s goal is to reduce concerns over wooden structures—namely, that they’re prone to fire hazards or might not be structurally sound in an earthquake. Developers use a building material called mass timber, a special type of strengthened wood in which timber panels are glued together to make beams and cross-set layers for walls and floors. Fire tests have shown the mass timber doesn’t ignite easily: It chars, which can insulate the rest of the panel from the heat. Strength testing has shown the layers aren’t easily jostled by outside forces.

Lever’s architects hope that wooden buildings will lessen the environmental impact of commercial towers that use concrete and steel, which are responsible for 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions during their manufacturing.

Other firms have designs on taller buildings, including one 35-story tower in Paris and a 24-story building in Vienna.

[h/t CityLab]

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Need a Dose of Green? Sit Inside This Mossy Auditorium
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Lecture halls aren’t known for being picturesque, but a new venue for lectures and events in Taipei might change that reputation. Inside, it looks like a scene from The Jungle Book.

As Arch Daily alerts us, a new lecture space at the JUT Foundation features textile art that makes it look like its interiors are entirely covered in moss.

The JUT Foundation is the arts-focused wing of a Taipei construction company called the JUT Group, and its gallery hosts talks and other events related to art and architecture. Designed by the Netherlands-based architects MVRDV, the 2500 square feet of greenery-inspired lecture hall is lined with custom carpeting designed to look like moss and biologically inspired textiles by the Argentinean artist Alexandra Kehayoglou.

A close-up of green, yellow, and red textiles fashioned to look like moss

A view of the back of an auditorium that looks like it's covered in green moss

Made of recycled threads from a carpet factory, the handmade 3D wall coverings pop out in a passable imitation of a forest ecosystem. The mossy design—which took a year to complete—pulls double duty as a sound buffer, too, minimizing the echo of the space. If you have to pack into a lecture hall with 175 other people, at least you’ll be able to pretend you’re in the middle of a quiet, peaceful forest.

[h/t Arch Daily]

All images courtesy the JUT Group.

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