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Ken's View

Ken’s View: What’s On Your Palette?


Pantone recently declared Ultra Violet to be the color of the year. (See January 2018 CA, Editor’s Notebook.) But wait, Benjamin Moore’s color of the year is Caliente. Can they do that? Have more than one color of the year? You bet they can. The color of the year is whatever those promoting that color want it to be. And that’s OK. What’s a market for if not choice?

Sherwin-Williams wasn’t content with a single color of the year. The company touted “specially curated palettes for the new residential, commercial, multifamily, healthcare, hospitality, and education markets”.

Regarding the hospitality palette, Sherwin-Williams offered the following insight: Guests, specifically Millennials… expect selfie-worthy spaces to take pictures in.

Enough with the Millenials already. They’ll choose a hotel—or be impressed by one—because it’s selfie-worthy? Seriously? My worst nightmare—one of them—is to arrive at a hotel to find a lobby full of selfie-taking Millienials.

Maybe I’m just not a color guy. That’s why I was intrigued by the Asif Khan-designed pavilion at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, which is described as the “darkest building on earth.” The British architect spray-painted the 32-ft.-high temporary structure with Vantablack VBx2 (Surrey NanoSystems, Newhaven, UK), a substance that absorbs more than 99% of light. The coating is thought to be the closest thing to a black hole one will ever experience. It appears to change the dimensions of an object, rendering 3D objects completely flat, according to a CNN report.

Tiny white lights and the parabolic curves of all four sides of the pavilion give the impression of stars suspended against the darkness of space. Personally, I think the lights are there to keep people from walking into the side of the building at night, like aircraft warning lights on tall structures. Let’s hope there isn’t a power failure.

It’s almost too difficult for humans to comprehend, the architect is said to have commented about the design. I know the feeling. I frequently encounter things in daily life that are beyond comprehension, and I don’t need to go to Pyeongchang for the experience.

Back to School

As long as we’re talking about comprehension, I understand what’s happening in education even less than I understand color. At least when it comes to color I know what I like.

At the Oak Grove School in Green Oaks, IL, a suburban Chicago school and community that are both apparently most notable for their trees, students are reported to be pedaling away at “bike desks” in a kinesthetic classroom, whatever that is.

Apparently, the idea is that pedaling is supposed to make the young scholars more focused and attentive. I’m sure a study or two has been done, but I’m not buying it. Kids have to learn to focus on one thing at a time, and encouraging hyperactivity, whatever the health benefit, isn’t going to accomplish that.

A much better and more understandable idea, in my estimation, is the KidsBuild! program, described as a “community outreach process that educates school children about the design, construction, and maintenance of their own school buildings.”

Conceived by Svigals + Partners, New Haven, CT, the idea behind KidsBuild! emerged more than two decades ago in the creation of the first-ever School-Based Building Advisory Committee. “These SBBACs gave birth to schools rooted in their neighborhoods and the particular needs of their communities,” said Julia McFadden, AIA, an architect and associate principal with Svigals + Partners.

KidsBuild! since has been introduced in eight Connecticut public schools. Recently, Svigals + Partners conducted a KidsBuild! program as part of the design and construction of the Engineering & Science University Magnet School (ESUMS), a “maker school” for grades 6-12 located on a university campus site in West Haven, CT.

“Workshops included teaching about the architectural design process and specific topics—like cantilevers and sustainability, devising ways to integrate art into the new building, and imagining how adjacent wetlands could affect the engineering and construction process,” said Svigals + Partners project architect Katelyn Chapin, AIA. Other workshop sessions introduced careers in architecture and engineering with site visits led by design-team members to enable students to track the construction process. The experience introduced students to concepts of surveying, groundwater flow, structural engineering, and construction sequences.

Clearly, KidsBuild! is a winner over bike desks. Kids already know how to pedal.

November/December 2019


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