Object Lesson


The Neuroscience of Building Products

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Building products stimulate a special area of the brain that my neurologist calls the techie-geeky lobe. It's where creativity and practicality meet, tackle problems, and release a massive dose of endorphins upon completion.

The goal of the PRODUCT SPEC GUIDE is to tap into the underutilized endorphin-rush potential of new building technologies. Every issue will feature a group of building case studies, selected according to theme. We'll piece apart the projects, identifying the materials and products—custom, off-the-shelf, and in-between—that the architects specified for construction.

The theme of our first issue is “The Office.” Associate editor Katie Gerfen has assembled three projects that range in size from small to large and in location from Suitland, Md., to Sarasota, Fla. The text explains the architect's particular strategy for material and product selections, and we identify the materials and products that appear in the photographs.

What's more, every issue will identify the latest trends and technologies in the development, manufacture, sales, and distribution of building products. The industry's moving fast: imagine the wow-factor of a product like Sage's new electrochromic glass, which switches electronically from opaque to translucent to transparent, thanks to a film of ceramic material less than 1/50th the thickness of a human hair (“A Place in the Shade”).

The Q&A on the last page of each PRODUCT SPEC GUIDE issue will introduce a designer, engineer, or scientist from a different sector of the building product industry. Compare the MRI scans of a building product designer and an architect, and you'll see massive activity in the same areas of their brains. Building products, after all, are architectural problems writ small—involving the same degrees of problem-solving, aesthetic vision, and technical expertise.


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About the Blogger

Ned Cramer

thumbnail image Ned Cramer is editor-in-chief of ARCHITECT, and editorial director of ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING, ECO-STRUCTURE, and METALMAG, published by Hanley Wood, a Washington, D.C.-based business media company. Prior to joining Hanley Wood, Cramer served as the first full-time curator of the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF), where he organized public programs and exhibitions such as "A Century of Progress: Chicago's 1933-34 World's Fair" and "New Federal Architecture: The Face of a Nation." At CAF, projects under Cramer's direction received support from foundations and corporations such as Altria, Boeing, the Driehaus Foundation, the Graham Foundation, and the McCormick-Tribune Foundation. He speaks regularly on architecture, design, and related issues. The Avery Architectural Index lists nearly 100 articles with Cramer's byline, many written in his former capacity as executive editor of Architecture magazine. The recipient of an Arts Administration Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Cramer has held positions at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Menil Collection in Houston. Cramer is an alumnus of the Rice University School of Architecture. He was born and raised in St. Louis.