To all of you that have a family member that is special needs. The Special Olympics are a spark of hope to the families that face immense challenges each day. With everything considered, I am sometimes upset at how the games are run and financed, however, their result is incredibly powerful. They celebrate a class of people that our society does their best to ignore from day to day; usually out of necessity. Seeing the Special Olympics on ESPN is a testament to the development of programs that can make the challenged individual’s life not as difficult or at least give them hope. These are athletes that probably have been laughed at for their challenges, and now have the chance to be celebrated on national television. It is up to our culture to ensure the responsible and appropriate respect of these athletes, as it seems inevitable that some people will not accept these people’s endeavors. It looks like progress to me.
Lately the Architecture world has seen great advances in buildings, and in a number of cases the work has just as much of a sculptural contribution to the built environment as an Architectural contribution. However, budgets are soaring and it poses the question: how much is art and Architecture worth? Buildings like the Disney Concert Hall have been transformative for entire urban regions, and buildings like the Bird’s Nest have been iconic but not necessarily transformative. The latest budget controversies are from two of the star Architects: Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center train station and Zaha Hadid’s Olympic Stadium. The train station is well under way and is an incredible testament to the poetry of design and the expense that it can have. The design has hundreds of tapered cantilevers that fan over the terminal, creating a beautiful array of light and space. I am not going to make any conjectures to the financial repercussions of a multi-billion dollar project, but I think that the project will be iconic and provide substantive tourist revenue to the region. In this case it seems appropriate and perhaps fitting to a region with a marred history. The World Trade Center epicenter isn’t a region that needed any help gaining tourist revenue, but there are enough invested interests to appropriately honor the tragedy that it seems worth the financial investment. In Japan’s Olympic stadium, Hadid’s proposal has recently been rejected and the design is under consideration. While some in the Architecture realm might see this as a disappointment, I see it as a realization of financial appropriation that is healthy. While all of Hadid’s has some significance in ground breaking design and construction, financial constraints are realities and I can’t see the benefit of an expensive designer stadium for a culture that is already saturated in design. The reality is Japan needs to have an Olympic games that provides positive revenue and displays the value of their ingenuity to lock in investments. In time things will inevitably balance, either from an intelligent adjustment or a natural force of financial reality. At the very least, construction techniques are being automated and developed to accommodate the new demands. In time, this will create a more intelligent work force and hopefully that will enable our society to be more responsible and protective of our communities. At the end of the day, people only really need a primitive hut, food and water. How will the future of design and construction provide for societies basic needs, necessary investments and desired indulgences?
As the geo-political climate adapts and religions react to an increasingly media-centric world, it is interesting to see an infographic video that describes the timeline development of the 5 major religions. Religion has historically caused a great number of conflicts and wars, and for a while it seemed like social media and the digital realm were easing religious tensions. However, with the emergence of ISIS and other extremist groups fueled by the internet, we are facing new challenges of how to maintain peace among a digital and developing world. In one instance, religious groups such as Christian media outlets and webcasts are exposing their message to more and more people, causing a shift towards carefully spoken words, with a few directed and concise points. In another, ISIS is using social media to radicalize their movement and cause a shift towards Muslim pride. While it might be easy to point out the radical sect of ISIS, Christians have had similar movements of (almost) militant groups of faith, exempli gratia – the anti-abortion movement. While I don’t have an answer to resolve the digital realms evolving problems, I think that discussion and forgiveness will be a part of the resolution. Whatever the outcome of the latest world problems, I think it is nice to see this timeline of religion.