2013 | 5 | 07 | BLOQ PARTY
Every vote counts!!! Please take the time to vote for BLOQ PARTY HERE

Voting is complicated, but we need every vote:
1. Go to:
2. Click "match/like" on this project: LES Delancey St Plaza: History Tribute Fence + BLOQ PARTY
3. Register for the website.
4. Check your mail/junk mail for your password confirmation.
5. Log-in and confirm your "match/like" for BLOQ PARTY.

Feel free to contact us with questions or comments.
You can learn more about our competition entry here:

We realize this is a tedious process, but we truly appreciate your help/time!!!!!

Thank you so much,
John, Mark & Yuval

2013 | 5 | 01 | BLOQ PARTY

Our proposal for the LES gateway called BLOQ PARTY is ready to go live! Check out our website here:

2013 | 4 | 12 | TINA
TINA is coming. It is one of 3 full scale installations being prepared for the Columbia GSAPP End of the Year Show which will take place on Saturday, May 18th.
You can check out the website here.

2013 | 3 | 26 | nycLOOP
My colleague Christina Galati has prepared a great blog post that details a parametric workshop at FxFowle. 
Feel free to follow along here.

2013 | 3 | 26 | nycLOOP
There is a story about nycLOOP on BBC News!
Go Luis!!!

2013 | 3 | 07 | nycLOOP
Reinvent the payphone voting is now live vote here!!!

2013 | 3 | 06 | nycLOOP

FxFowle's nyc LOOP phone booth has won the award for being the most creative! Now the voting field is open so please vote for our project: vote here

Project team:
Mark Bearak
Karen Bookatz
Luis Bustamante
Jack Coble
Haley Cohen
Christina Galati
June Kim
Patrick Koch
Brandon Massey
Seiji Watanabe

2013 | 2 | 28 | fylanges

“FY-Langes is a tactile, interactive, reconfigurable installation constructed almost exclusively from packing foam. The aim was to experiment with a conventional material in an unconventional way, testing the limits of its performance in order to create an occupiable structure. Packing foam is an inexpensive, recyclable, water resistant and durable material with interesting physical properties. FY-Langes takes advantage of the translucent, tactile and light-weight quality of the foam and creates a playful experience for all kinds of users.

The goal was to marry CNC cutting techniques with advanced digital design tools in a singular project. The system is comprised of repeating strands, each strand is built from repeating bale units. Each unit is comprised of a folded base and articulated phalanges (or “FY-Langes”). By varying the height of the base versus the height of the phalanges we are able to accommodate many interactive uses. A single sheet of foam generates four nested bales that are custom cut with a CNC router and then folded and tabbed together to create three-dimensional units. Tabs and notches are milled into the sheet and each bale is tabbed together, as well as tabbed to the next bale in the strip. The tabbing system allows us to build the entire structure using only packing foam, meaning each strip generates close to 0% waste when cut.

FY-Langes is responsive to the environment; it moves with the wind, filters light and is shaped by the way people use it. One of the inherent strengths of the system is its inherent flexibility in the way it contours to users' bodies inviting them to interact with it in dynamic ways. FY-Langes, is a reconfigurable system, as its strands can work on their own - other uses include but are not limited to: wall/ceiling installations, furniture, outdoor components.“

2013 | 2 | 18 | reinvent the payphone

Over time the role of a traditional phone booth has changed dramatically. While technology has steadily improved, most phone booths have failed to evolve to meet modern needs. Nevertheless, the core principle of a phone booth, a chance to connect people, is still relevant in contemporary society. The idea of connection is the guiding thought behind the “hot spot,” an iconic beacon that can be built on the site of existing phone booths. The “hot spot” uses technology to connect users to information about their neighborhood through interactive features and targeted advertising. Physically the “hot spot” will act as a meeting place or hub that will provide respite from New York’s street life. 

Functionally, the “hot spot” tower has a series of ports that can accept a wide variety of components. These interchangeable components can be custom tailored to neighborhoods, streets and even corners. Some of the interchangeable components include visitor information, community reference board, parking meters, wi-fi hubs, charging stations and interactive advertising. Each of these components can be activated when a user interacts with the “hot spot” and the information can be custom tailored per individual. Along with user information, area specific advertisements can be displayed on an interactive touch screen. 

The “hot spot’s” defining feature is a retractable screen that can be used to block wind and sun as necessary. A “hot spot” user can activate the screen on command and tune the screen according to weather conditions. Paired with retractable seating elements, cell phone charging and a wi-fi hot spot, the retractable screen will provide a physical barrier to the street and outlines a zone of relaxation along the sidewalk. This “hot spot” can be used by an individual or a group of people to provide connections both digitally and physically. 

2013 | 02 | 14 | fxfowle blog entry

When it comes to parametric modeling, everything starts with a point. Two points make a line; two lines make a surface. With this basic set of components, the possibilities are endless. In much the same way that languages comprise a unique combination of nouns and verbs, parametrics synthesize innumerable permutations of points and lines. As with learning a foreign language, the parametrics learning curve begins steeply, but with a basic skill set, the possibilities are truly infinite.

Understandably, approaching a new technique can be intimidating. The easiest way to grasp the concept of parametrics is to take an iterative or algorithmic approach. An algorithm is commonly a step-by-step procedure of calculations that are usually done by a computer; that said, algorithms can be created manually as well. Architecturally speaking, if something can be manually modeled, then it is highly probable that the same design can be generated from a script, or built as a parametric model. It is important to start small. I recommend a baby-step approach.  Take time to analyze the steps that would be employed to model something manually, and then write these steps down sequentially.  This creates a sort of “pseudo code.”  These pseudo code steps can then be used as a roadmap to generate that very same design – only this time the design would be generated using a parametric modeler.

The act of creating a parametric model is an inherently front-loaded process. That is to say, it may seem more practical to manually model a design because it is initially faster. The problem with a manual model, however, is that once the geometry has been created, it is static. That means that the geometry would require rebuilding, in the case of new inputs, and/or when the end goals are changed. With a parametric model, though, there is never a definitive object – instead, the model illustrates a series of relationships. For example, if point A moves in one direction, then point B will move the same distance in another direction. A well-designed parametric system allows for instantaneous results whenever inputs are updated.

I am currently working on a school in Kenya that will require partitions to separate men and women. In addition to divvying up the space, the panels will allow for passive ventilation to cool rooms as necessary. My first step has been to take an existing, culturally significant pattern and arbitrarily determine how easily it can be scaled in order to test its opacity.

Using Grasshopper, I am able to test how easily the pattern can be scaled.  However, in this case the tool is only being used to create an arbitrary global condition across the entire panel. The next step would be to take into account some contextual inputs. For example, a secondary input is the fact that the screens could be more transparent above typical eye heights. With this in mind, I have used a linear gradient to test the results of having dense patterns at the base of the panel and a more open condition at the top. Once the gradient benchmarks have been determined, I can start testing the patterns on different materials and fabrication techniques. In the case of this exercise I will be using GFRC that has been milled using a CNC router. Taking into account the width of a router bit at the base and the minimum thickness that GFRC would allow for at the top of the panel, I am able to bracket the gradient based on the fabrication constraints.

With the basic inputs in place, I can test the screens in a practical application. In this situation I will use the screen to span 4.2m floor to floor slabs. Using a new Grasshopper definition I can use a curve to tune the size of the screen openings. This curve can be adjusted to accommodate privacy constraints, air flow, and slab adjacency, while also considering material and fabrication limits. This is accomplished by moving the curve control points away from the Y-Axis in different increments and then testing the results. 

Even in this basic example of parametric modeling, the flexibility, strength and ease of this system/approach are undeniable. I took a primitive modeling technique and applied it in a complex way. Simple offsets of a common pattern accommodate aesthetic, programmatic, ecological, material, fabrication, and functional constraints.

Ultimately, the greatest success of the system is not based on the technique that was used to create it, but how well it functions as an architectural element. The best projects are not defined by their parametric process; instead, the process falls into the background, and seamlessly supports the project’s overall concept. Parametric modeling is a tool, similar to rendering and BIM, to be employed as necessary on a project to project basis. While this is an example of parametric modeling in an iterative way with an outcome that was somewhat predictable; greater knowledge of parametric models can be used to venture into the truly unknown, and therein lies the promise of mathematical computation.

2013 | 01| 20 | Crains Interview

Crains Interview

During the long drought for New York City architecture firms, Mark Bearak toiled away on blueprints for a large residential project in Singapore. "It was horrible, repetitive, never-ending work," Mr. Bearak said, adding that he was also grateful to have it, considering the state of his profession in the years after the financial crisis.

Last year, though, Mr. Bearak landed a job at Mesh, a small designer in Brooklyn, and just two months ago he scored a top job at hot firm FXFowle. Today, the 33-year-old talks about a new "sense of confidence" growing in the architecture business—and many agree.

In recent months, a raft of projects both public and private, along with a surge in international work, have pushed the city's top architecture firms to go beyond rebuilding recession-ravaged staff rosters and gear up for new business. More than a dozen major architectural firms in the city expect to boost staff this year by between 10% and 20%, adding a total of hundreds of designers.

Among the big projects stoking the hiring engines are the Cornell NYC Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, a pair of huge residential/office projects slated to rise on the rail yards west of Penn Station, and a new $650 million police academy taking shape in College Point, Queens.

The last of those is among a growing number of publicly funded works, products of a big increase in government spending on infrastructure and development.

"We have $8 billion in projects under our management, compared to about $5 billion just a few years ago," said David Burney, commissioner of the city's Department of Design and Construction, which is overseeing the police academy, a 730,000-square-foot building designed by Perkins + Will. Mr. Burney said work could begin on a $350 million second building at the 35-acre site next year.

Meanwhile, some major residential developments are taking shape. The Zeckendorf brothers just broke ground on First Avenue across from the United Nations for a 44-story condominium that will be the first in the U.S. designed by British architect Norman Foster. They also have tapped Robert A.M. Stern's namesake firm to design a 51-story residential high-rise at 43 E. 60th St.

"In the fourth quarter last year, we did see a noticeable uptick," said N. Scott Johnson, Stern's chief operating officer, who noted that the Upper East Side building had been stalled for years. "Projects on the residential side are coming back to life."

Even office projects, the big piece of the market that virtually vanished during the recession, have begun again to feed the architecture industry. Earlier this month, the Related Cos. broke ground on the first building at the Hudson rail yards, an office tower to be anchored by Coach. The work is good news for KPF, the city's largest architectural firm, which is designing at least two buildings for the $15 billion, 13 million-square-foot project, as well as doing the master plan for the site. Others, including SOM and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, are also working on the development.

"We're optimistic—the rail yards is moving into construction," Paul Katz, KPF's managing principal said.

Architects who create interiors are also reporting gains in their books of business. "We've seen work jump 30% in the last three years," said Robin Klehr Avia, regional managing principal and chairman of the board at Gensler, an architecture firm known for its work designing commercial space. Ms. Avia said the company has 390 people in the New York office and will probably add 40 in the next 12 months.

Having been burned by the volatile office-leasing market in the past, Gensler, like many firms, has worked to diversify overseas, Ms. Avia said. International commissions are an area where the company has found opportunities, and the pipeline is only growing, despite a dropoff in Europe in recent years

"A lot of overseas development projects are coming to New York for their design work because we're recognized as world-class," Ms. Avia said, noting that Gensler last year won a bid to design a 600,000-square-foot upscale department store in Mexico City called El Palacio de Hierro.

All that work, however, comes with one downside that most firms haven't faced in years: It is heightening competition for the best designers.

"We've been able to get top talent, but the Cornell job has been big for us," said Scott Lee, the New York head of Morphosis, which is designing the first building for Cornell's tech campus on Roosevelt Island. The building will be about 150,000 square feet in size and will cost nearly $200 million; it aims to achieve a zero carbon footprint.

"The level of press we've been getting has helped us attract people who are interested in the project and also the net-zero ambition," Mr. Lee said, referring to hopes that the building will generate as much power as it uses. He adds that his firm plans to add as many as seven new hires to its 10-person office this year.

2008 | 3 | 3 | China Lab Charette

mega-block | hyper-mesh

The following is our submittal for the China Lab Charette that took place a few weeks ago.

Mark Bearak - MArch
Dora Kelle - March
Seth Ruggiero - Urban Planning
Dana Fantauzzo - Real Estate

To reinvent the mega-block we proposed raising the residential and community spaces, thus creating the opportunity to bring the public into the base of the site.

On the ground floor an open park space will be created between the lattice systems that serve as the retail and free community spaces, this will also serve as the core to the residential spaces as well as.

Below grade ample parking is created for the residents and the public. There will also be a second level of major infrastructure such as subway connections and mechanical requirements that will all be located below the berms on the site.

Above the ground, residential space, roof terraces, and sky gardens will attach to adjacent mega-blocks. These connections will increase the access of public space to residents in surrounding megablocks.