Jameson Detweiler didn’t set out to immerse himself in green design. Three years ago, the founder of the website GreenKonnect was a material sciences and engineering undergrad at Drexel University. These days, he can quote LEED requirements at will. The transformation began when he helped start the Drexel Smart House, a program that renovated a former frat house in West Philadelphia into a model of sustainable living. “Somewhere along the line, I became passionate about sustainability in a way I never thought I would,” he says.
Involved in all aspects of the Smart House construction, Detweiler spent many frustrated hours searching online for information on green products, finding that everyone made different claims for credits and performance. Vexed and puzzled, but not defeated, he developed greenkonnect.com to bring together vendors and designers, projects and products. “As open and willing to share information as the community is, there wasn’t anywhere to find the info in one place,” he recalls. “As an amateur, I was facing the same problems as the professionals.”
At press time, the site had 1,800 projects in its database, each searchable by type and including a comprehensive profile that lists LEED points and certification, as well as energy usage and green strategies. And the content will grow only more robust as users upload detailed information about projects. When the products component goes live next month, project profiles will link to building materials and products, which will be user-reviewed. The searchable product database will filter by, among other things, color and application (e.g., healthcare, hospitality). Because the site matches users with the most energy-efficient glazing or the ideal FSC-certified flooring, Detweiler describes GreenKonnect as a “human-powered search engine,” but given its rich criteria matrix and interactive potential, it’s more like a dating site for eco-minded manufacturers and designers.
Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 2006, wrote in the April 2008 issue of Abitare about why, after studying architecture at Istanbul Technical University for three years, he gave up designing buildings and turned instead to fiction. “I abandoned the great empty architectural drawing sheets that thrilled and frightened me, making my head spin, and instead sat down to stare at the blank writing paper that thrilled and frightened me just as much,” Pamuk says.
A lot of effort goes into archiving various aspects of the physical world, but what about the acoustic environment? The sounds of nature are increasingly drowned out by the manmade world, and even familiar mechanical noises eventually disappear as newer technologies replace outmoded ones. This past summer, BBC’s International Radio Station launched the Save Our Sounds project to develop a “sound map of the world,” and it would like everyone to pitch in. Submit your audio recordings, listen to sounds from around the globe, and learn more about “acoustic ecology.”
Charles and Ray Eames’ Powers of Ten (powersof10.com)—a 1977 film short that explores magnitudes of size—gets something of a scientifically accurate update, thanks to the American Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately, The Known Universe, although beautiful and compelling, only moves from the Earth to the farthest reaches of space, not inward to the subatomic level.
The Modesto Art Museum has created an online database, now more than 1,000 entries strong, for the California city’s architecture. Information includes data such as construction date, architect, significance, and the like. Did you know that the Milton Pflueger–designed City Hall building (1960) appeared on the May 1961 cover of The American City as an example of progressive urban design?