Ajmal Aqtash (left), 31, and Richard Sarrach, 34 -- shown here in a classroom at Pratt Institute, where both are instructors -- work and play in the academic and professional realms of architecture. Their website does the same.

Ajmal Aqtash (left), 31, and Richard Sarrach, 34—shown here in a classroom at Pratt Institute, where both are instructors—work and play in the academic and professional realms of architecture. Their website does the same.

Credit: Sioux Nesi

Ajmal Aqtash and Richard Sarrachsit down over beers at a Brooklyn, N.Y., café near Pratt Institute, where both are design studio instructors. As they describe their website, core.form-ula.com, the conversation runs the gamut: the role of the academy in digital design, performative architecture, engineering, art, science. Posts on the site reflect the same broad approach—a profile of artist Tomás Saraceno, known for his air-filled sculptures, follows news of a handbook for the modeling program Grasshopper. A beta version of the site was launched in 2005, but the current version went live in July 2007. Since then, readership has grown steadily, with over 200,000 views in March, up 30 percent from February.

With one foot in academia and one in the profession, Aqtash—part of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Performance Design Group—and Sarrach—whose firm, form-ula, focuses on computer-aided design and fabrication technology—are two of a growing breed of architects split between worlds. Both use teaching and research to inspire practice, and their findings often end up on the site, a way to track changes in parametric design. “Core.form-ula is an opportunity to supplement the educational system,” Sarrach notes, “but it can also service the professional world.”

The site showcases student work—design studio briefs and projects from architecture schools (Pratt, the University of Pennsylvania, and SCI-Arc) pushing the boundaries of digital design. In addition to essays, videos, and visual stimulation, the site serves as a community library for the scripts, plug-ins, and other software tools needed to tweak standard CAD and modeling programs. As a resource, Core.form-ula is still growing; expect hardware and sustainability sections in the months to come. “We’re still experimenting,” Aqtash says. “Multiple types of content fuse together, which gives a glimpse at the future of architecture.”



The Society of Architectural Historians and ARTstor—an image library for researchers and educators—have joined forces to create the Society of Architectural Historians Architecture Resources Archive, or SAHARA. Launched in April with 10,000 images, the site is a place for SAH members to upload their own digital photographs and QTVR (360 degree) panoramic images or download those of other members. Learn more, and become a member if you aren’t already, at sah.org.


New Jersey architect William J. Martin developed a formal architectural design philosophy for himself back in 1991, shortly before he opened his eponymous firm. Called “The Equilibrium of Appropriate Balance and Econo-Functional Aesthetic Balance,” it is, in his words, an attempt to formulate an “architectural gestalt.”


Graphic designer Chris Papasadero has created a display typeface based on Rem Koolhaas’ architectural forms. Not an actual font, per se, but an image file you can download.


Developed by GIS Planning, a pioneer in the business of web-based geographic information systems (GIS) for economic development, Zoom Prospector makes it easier for companies to find the best site in the U.S. for expansion or relocation.


Architect editor at large Edward Keegan tours the recently opened Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago with its designer, Renzo Piano.


Every six years, the U.S. Congress writes a transportation spending bill, and this is the year lawmakers will hash out the newest version. If you’ve had it with congested, crumbling highways; crowded buses, trains, and subways; and streets that make biking to work a hair-raising adventure, let Capitol Hill and the rest of the world know it.