Friday, June 26, 2009

Some Sustainable Musings (of my former architectural career)

I worked as an architect/designer for some large and well-known firms in NYC (Gruzen & Partners and Davis Brody & Associates) and Rome (The Architects’ Collaborative TAC), and worked on some large and complex projects, on most of which I was the head designer. I won an interoffice competition at Gruzen to design for a limited competition for the US Pavilion at the 1967 Expo at Montreal. The program was strange as they stated that it had to be able to display anything from a microscopic computer chip to a Titan rocket 150 feet tall. I created a transparent/translucent cube of steel tension elements (that predated the Pompidou Center in Paris) with various kinds of glass and fiberglass infill panels, an open courtyard in the center where larger objects could be displayed, and a unique crowd control device where people would feed into channels sloping underground, into huge elevators with multi-media displays on all four walls, up to the top of the building and then they would circulate in spiral patterns down and out. It was a great success and won the jurors’ vote but subsequently failed as the head of our firm was caught trying to “buy” one of the judges before the fact.

After working in Rome for TAC and working on the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (which I didn’t design and is a bit 60s-ish), I came back and worked for Davis Brody on the South Street Seaport master plan and a proposal for a sixty-floor tower to be called the Atlas Building. Being young and questing and not liking contemporary International Style buildings much at the time, I wanted to completely review how skyscrapers were thought through, especially environmentally. One major idea I worked with was to utilize the elevator shafts as ventilation ducts (I think that there were something like 40 elevators in four banks, and they took up a huge amount of the space), so that they would in effect utilize convection currents to cool and building in summer by pumping the warm/hot air from below up and out, and in winter would use geothermal heat from the bedrock of Manhattan to warm the ambient temperature. Needless to say, this idea was dismissed as being way too elaborate.

The second and even better idea involved the skin/fa├žade of a skyscraper. While at work on the Atlas building, a salesman came who represented a company that made the very thin and strong skins for the lunar landing modules and space vehicles for NASA. They were a special fiberglass a few millimeters thick that were amazingly strong, tensile and, in their natural state, translucent to the point of being almost transparent. His pitch was that they could be any color, any texture, however I wanted them to be their natural translucent way. I imagined the HVAC ducting snaking up behind the skin of the building, painted various colors, so that the building itself would look like a prism, refracting the light of the New York skyline. Then I suddenly thought that this three-foot deep HVAC/curtain wall could itself act as a duct, taking the heat from the sun and allowing it to rise up, even possibly running small turbines within the skin to generate electricity (a bit like solar panels wedded to convection device). I think now that the combination would be profound, like a solar panel within a thin passive solar receptacle that would contain the heat. It could even have commercial applications and as I look around the internet, it seems like no one else is thinking this way.

Anyway, these are my musings. I would love the chance one day to get research funded to take these ideas further as I think that they could be paradigm-changers.

Monday, June 08, 2009

I just got back from a week in SF, lecturing astrologers and local fauna there on a number of occasions, doing readings, getting into penetration with them, hiking up to and around Phoenix Lake on the Northern slope of Mt Tamalapais with an LA friend, striding into the mountains and loving it, and then my all day workshop on AstroLocalityFengShui, which was quite a hit and got 23+ people for the day of exploring my recent ideas and finding them challenging and of interest.

I came across the above article as someone I know wanted to see it again, but I thought you might be interested in my background in this area. In those days I was voracious, being able to learn and connect with many of the great therapists and healers in London and England in those days. Ronny Laing and his wife Jutta were friends, Tom Myers, Chris Connelly, Diana Whitmore, Ean Begg, David Tansley, Rt Hon Rosemary Russell and others. I knew a profound North London crowd who were at the cutting edge of psychotherapy, midwifery and healing techniques. I was John DaMonte’s astrologer and friend, and he designated me to work on relieving him from a crew of particularly voracious woman patients of his from North London who were merciless in imposing on his generosity. I knew (and of course he knew) that this was literally killing him and he asked me to fend some of them off, which I proceeded to do. John was called at all hours by his patients (who thought they were friends) and it took its toll on him. I warned him and he suddenly disappeared from my life because of his sudden and unexpected death in 1975.

When I first met John, some close friends had been to him and found his perception quite profound and amazing. I therefore made an appointment and went to see him, despite the fact that I was not sick at all and hadn't been for decades. We talked, I explained why I was there, and John laughed. He went into his back room and came back after some minutes with a white powder in a small envelope folded in a peculiar way. He explained that this was my "simillimum," the sum total of all the illnesses in my life to that date and its function was to clear out the effects of drugs that had pushed symptoms back into my body. He asked if I had had lots of penicillin as a child and I had, for years, been given it for persistent earaches while swimming in the summers. When I took the remedy under my tongue, he told me that the symptoms of all my earlier, childhood illnesses would appear, go through their cycles in a brief way and then dissapate. I didn't really believe him, but nevertheless of the next week I experienced a wild range of symptoms that seemed as real as can be. My face and body flushed like chickenpox, my ears felt like they were infected, and my occasional bladder infections arose and even discharged, which was a little too real. He told me that if I doubted him, I could go and take a test at a North London hospital. I did and the results were negative -- I was clear. It was an amazing experience and I attribute my subsequent good health from then since to this treatment.

When I first asked him to teach me about how to use the pendulum in 1973, he laughed and told me to go away and figure it out in a few days, which is exactly what I did. Fortunately on the mantelpiece of my houseboat on the Thames was an empty Guerlain perfume bottle that had a perfectly conical top made from glass. The day that John told me to find a pendulum in my environment, I noticed this bottle in a different way than before. I attached it to a woven threat of strands of pure white, undyed silk, that connected the perfum top and brilliant omni-directional pendulum to some also white and pure ivory beads. And I did create my own way of working with the pendulum and made many machines to manifest the process. It was an amazing time knowing David Tansley, Rt. Hon. Rosemary Russell (who I adored), and John DaMonte, who were also all close friends. She was very grand and wise, having done everything including turning John onto lsd in Kensington Gardens when she was in her 70s and he in his 50s. They were a rare and brilliant group of searchers and friends, who I will always adore.