Tired & Retired: Detroit’s Abandoned Arnold Home

[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

The state-of-the-art Arnold Home helped ease generations of retired Detroiters off this mortal coil before changing demographics dulled its once-cutting edge.

Hasta la Vista, Granny

The Arnold Home on Detroit’s Seven Mile Road opened in 1931, and was the final iteration of a succession of “Arnold” elder care homes dating back to 1899. Reverend Charles Arnold conceived the idea of a live-in care home after noting that the soon-to-be-Motor-City’s industrial boom was a bust for the old, the ill, and others in need of a social safety net.

The Big House

The penultimate Arnold Home was designed and built by Weston and Ellington, a Detroit-based architectural firm whose portfolio included the Metropolitan Building, The Wardell hotel (now the Park Shelton condominiums), and the New Light Baptist Church. The two-story tall Arnold Home featured four wings housing up to 115 residents, a dining hall, and hospital facilities. 1938 saw the addition of two more stories, increasing patient capacity to 235 beds.

No Motown

Detroit’s demographics began to change in the late 1950s and early 1960s, however. Middle-class retirees were moving to the suburbs and new residents tended to rely more heavily on Medicare and other government assistance programs. As this trend progressed, the Arnold Home began experiencing funding and budgeting issues that resulted in a steadily declining standard of care.

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Not Photoshopped: Pixelated Food Sculptures Look Like Digital Creations

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

Japanese art director Yuni Yoshida is well known for her surreal digital creations, particularly those manipulating the human body into unnatural forms, but a new series takes the opposite approach. “Layered” is a collection of food photography in which fruit, burgers and other food items are cut apart and rearranged in pixelated or spliced forms, making them look like Photoshopped images.

For the pixelated series, Yoshida selected the color palette in a given arrangement of food and sourced “pixels” from a variety of other foods to recreate the tones. Look closely at the “pixels” in the pineapple image, for example, and you’ll see that most of them aren’t pineapple at all, but the effect is brilliant.

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Yoshida uses a variety of techniques to achieve her signature surrealist style, from obvious digital manipulations to clever use of materials and photography angles. You can follow her work on Instagram.

The “Layered” series is yet another example of imagery that appears to be Photoshopped, but really isn’t. Check out 36 more fake-looking photos.

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Anthropomorphic Drones Tell the Stories of Immigrants & Refugees in Milan

[ By SA Rogers in Gadgets & Geekery & Technology. ]

In Milan, the eyes and voices of immigrants, refugees and marginalized citizens take on a surprising form to interact with the public, telling people their stories. While drones are typically associated with surveillance, war and intrusion, here they become messengers in an attempt to cross cultural divides and encourage empathy.

Loro (Them), a live performance by New York-based, Poland-born artist Krzysztof Wodiczko, came to Italy for the first time on June 6-8, during Milan Photo Week, with support from non-profit public art organization More Art. The multimedia installation anthropomorphizes drones “to reclaim a broader conversation about technology’s relationship to humanity,” equipping them with screens that show only the eyes of people involved in the project. A megaphone-like mouth tells each person’s story as the drones fly at low altitude outside Milan’s Teatro Continuo Burri.

“Each drone represents a person, elaborating on the lived experience not only of immigration, but more generally of social and political marginalization, addressing highly topical issues such as cohabitation, citizenship, representation, and even hospitality. The title of the project Loro (Them) immediately emphasizes the distance that is created by those who are mistakenly considered different—highlighting the all too familiar ‘them’ vs. ‘us’ dichotomy. At the same time, the artist seeks to cancel this divisive space, putting audiences face to face, albeit virtually, with real stories and real individuals.”

For all their good intentions, the drones still have a bit of a disconcerting look to them, at least in the initial renderings, but they’re a tad less imposing in real life, as seen in this video by the Instytut Adama Mickiewicza. Whether there’s a disconnect between the stories of these so-called “invisible citizens” and the technology used to present them may depend on your personal view of drones. If you find them creepy, do you think that view would ease at all when they’re humanized like this?

Loro (Them) is just the latest thought-provoking project from Wodiczko, an internationally known artist, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and former director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies and of the Interrogative Design Group at MIT.

“Throughout his career, Wodiczko has been instrumental in combining new technologies with art. Working with still images, video and audio, Wodiczko has become famous throughout the world for his large-scale public screenings of iconic buildings and monuments. Since 1980 he has created more than 90 screenings worldwide, including “Abraham Lincoln: War Veteran Projection” in New York City in 2012 commissioned by More Art.”

Images of performance via Art Tribune

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360-Degree Infinity Pool for a London Skyscraper is “A Little Bit James Bond”

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

The world’s first 360-degree rooftop infinity pool is set to shimmer atop a 55-story skyscraper in London, featuring transparent acrylic walls on all sides. Since acrylic transmits light at a similar wavelength as water, it will make the water appear crystal clear, so swimmers feel like they’re merging with the sky, high above the city streets. The pool itself is pretty awesome, but its most interesting feature is its unusual means of entering and exiting.

UK-based manufacturer Compass Pools want the pool to appear seamless from every direction, which means the perimeter can’t be interrupted by a staircase. The floor of the pool is also transparent so visitors to the five-star hotel directly below can gaze up at the sky through the water. Their solution? A rotating spiral staircase that comes up through the floor on demand.

“We faced some quite major technical challenges to this building, the biggest one being how to actually get into the pool,” says designer and technical director Alex Kemsley. “Normally a simple ladder would suffice, but we didn’t want stairs on the outside of the building or in the pool as it would spoil the view – and obviously you don’t want 600,000 liters of water draining through the building either. The solution is based on the door of a submarine, coupled with a rotating spiral staircase which rises from the pool floor when someone wants to get in or out – the absolute cutting edge of swimming pool and building design and a little bit James Bond to boot!”

“Architects often come to us to design roof top infinity pools, but rarely do we get a say in the building design because the pool is usually an afterthought. But on this project, we actually started with the pool design and essentially said, ‘how do we put a building underneath this?’ When we designed the pool, we wanted an uninterrupted view, both above and below the water.”

“Swimming in the SkyPool at the Shard, it’s quite a weird feeling to have helicopters flying past at your level, but this pool takes it a step further. Pop your goggles on and with a 360-degree view of London from 220m up, it really will be something else – but it’s definitely not one for the acrophobic!”

The pool will be heated using waste energy from the building’s air conditioning system, and will also feature a computer-controlled building management system to keep track of water levels and temperatures, while a built-in anemometer monitors wind speeds.

The building is called “Infinity London,” and once partners and contractors are confirmed, it’s set to begin construction in 2020.

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Lot In America: 10 More Abandoned Auto Dealerships

[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

When the auto sector’s hurting, dealers feel the pain and these closed and abandoned auto dealerships are the poster-kids of decline in a once-proud industry.

The Buick Stops Here

Take Rassas Buick, a GM dealership in Red Bank, NJ that closed after an astonishing 83 years in business because, according to Flickr member Jazz Guy, “GM wants to right-size markets it considers overfranchised.” Too bad the braintrust at GM couldn’t let the market decide which dealerships were viable and which ones weren’t… applied capitalism, one might say.

Hardt Earned

Here’s the former Earnhardt Ford in Tempe, AZ, as photo-documented inside and out by Flickr member oati in March of 2008. The self-proclaimed “#1 In Arizona” Ford dealership may have moved to a presumably bigger and better location (or perhaps a smaller, more economical one considering the move took place in the midst of the Great Recession) but geez, did they ever leave a mess behind!

No A for Effort

Are they open to closing? We don’t know the circumstances revolving around this apparently stillborn GM dealership in (we’re guessing) Colma, CA but kudos to Flickr member Dave Fayram anyway. Timing is everything when it comes to photography… and to auto sales, for that matter.

Like A Rose

Bronx car dealer Sam M Rose passed away in 1990 at the age of 77, leaving the remnants of his long-time Chevy dealership behind. Fast-forward to the summer of 2009 and Rose Chevrolet’s big neon bowtie sign still loomed over Fordham Road, roughly three decades after Rose’s namesake dealership closed. A tip ‘o the cap to Flickr member Traci Lawson for snapping this shot and it’s a good thing she did: according to one commenter, the venerable sign was finally removed in 2016.

M Squared

Towards the end of the twentieth century, a trend developed where disparate auto dealerships congregated together in sprawling “auto centers” in a bid to attract more customers. Trouble was, most customers only want to buy one car regardless of how many different dealerships are clustered around them. The result? Something like the former Metro Auto Center in Tucson, AZ, snapped in July of 2011 by Flickr member Ginger Bidwell.

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IKEA Unveils Robotic Furniture, The Urban Village of the Future & More

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

How can we make housing more affordable, livable and sustainable in the face of climate change, rapid urbanization and other pressing issues? IKEA has some ideas. The Swedish retailer just unveiled its upcoming collaborations and projects at its annual event, Democratic Design Days, and they range from a new modular way of building entire cities to robotic furniture for small spaces.

The Urban Village Project

SPACE10, IKEA’s global research and design lab, worked with EFFEKT Architects to develop an urban housing concept rolling together a wide variety of sustainable and equitable approaches as well as emerging technologies. The Urban Village Project “rethinks how we design, build, finance and share our future homes, neighborhoods and cities,” focusing on flexible homes built entirely from sustainable cross-laminated timber – and that’s just the beginning.

“Our cities are facing some of the biggest challenges to date—from rapid urbanization to aging populations, from a climate emergency to increasing feelings of loneliness and anxiety in our urban environments. On top of that, we experience rising and unpredictable housing prices in cities all around the world and the prospects are bleak. We need to almost double our cities in just a few decades to house a rising urban population—which creates a strong link between how we choose to evolve our urban areas and the fate of humanity. Therefore, we need to rethink our built environment, starting now.”

Not only are these houses based on IKEA’s signature flat-pack, modular design ethos, so they can easily be customized for the needs of individual residents and families, they’re designed for disassembly, unlocking “a circular material loop” so that almost all building components and materials can be disassembled and replaced, reused and recycled during and after the lifecycle of the building. They’d be pre-fabricated, mass-produced and flat-packed to drive down costs, and crucially, IKEA introduces new ideas for democratic access inspired by community land trusts and co-operatives.

“The Urban Village Project seeks to make everyday life more affordable. The idea is to maximise the advantages of living in a community that can pool and share resources. First, we’d introduce a monthly rate for all your essentials: rent, electricity, water, heating, maintenance and shared facilities. Secondly, we’d unlock better deals on daily needs like food, media, insurance, transport and recreation through flexible add-on subscriptions. Thirdly, each month every resident would have the option of buying ‘shares’ of real estate—to access ownership progressively and cash in later as the property value increases.”

“The Urban Village Project would enable more people to become homeowners by creating a form of housing co-operative. With significantly lower monthly rents and more disposable income, this unique legal setup would allow residents to buy ‘shares’ in the property—when they want to and when they can. This would get rid of expensive down payments upfront alongside interest rates which limit first time buyers from entering the housing market. Over time, the property would be owned by the community, and residents would be able to cash in on the profits.”

But sustainable and equitable modes of living don’t stop at how the structures themselves are designed, built and purchased or rented. Access to community is an important component, with the subscription-based housing model providing multi-generational co-living to promote a sense of well-being. Since the homes are so customizable, they’re accessible, as well. As older people age out of their homes, they can move into more accessible units in the same village, remaining a part of their neighborhood. Residents share access to local food harvesting, renewable energy and composting, and can choose to partake in communal dinners, shared daycare, urban gardening, fitness and other activities together; flexible subscription services provide transportation, insurance, media and recreation too.

Products Made of Ocean Plastic & Manufacturing Waste

IKEA plans to introduce more recycled materials into its own products, as well. The upcoming Musselblomma collection, a collaboration with Spanish designer Inma Bermúdez, incorporates plastic collected by Spanish fishermen in the Mediterranean sea into a series of polyester fabrics in vivid colors and patterns. The series takes visual inspiration from the source of these materials; you’ll find abstracted fish shapes, soothing blue-greens and corals throughout the collection of bags, cushion covers and tablecloths.

As part of its new initiative called “Better Air Now,” IKEA is also transforming a common manufacturing byproduct into tactile, organic woven items. Förändring (which means “change” in Swedish) is a collection of rugs, bowls, lampshades and baskets made with rice straws, a harvesting residue that’s commonly burned for disposal, contributing to air pollution and smog. Coming in deep shades of blue and black, these items are expected to be released by the end of the year.

Robotic Small Space Solutions

Since they’re already known for expertly packing a ton of function into tiny spaces, it was probably only a matter of time before IKEA got in on some robotic transforming furniture items. The brand is collaborating with MIT-based startup Ori Living to offer “Rognan,” an all-in-one room solution offering a trundle bed, movable walls, a sofa, storage and simple touch-screen operation so you can transform a living room into a bedroom within seconds with virtually no effort. Set to launch in Hong Kong and Japan in 2020, Rognan will undoubtedly be anxiously awaited by everyone who’s ever dreamed of enjoying this kind of functionality in their own spaces. Hopefully it won’t be long before it’s available everywhere else, too.

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Car Parklet: Bold Intervention Takes Over Occupied Parking Spaces

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

Artist Benedetto Bufalino has never shied away from the wild, surreal and unexpected; previously, he has transformed abandoned cars into pizza ovens, phone booths into aquariums, concrete trucks into massive mobile disco balls and defunct travel trailers into swimming pools, among many other interventions. These projects never fail to put a smile on our faces – but the same might not be said for the owners of the parked cars he recently took over in Logroño, Spain.

Parklet projects commonly reclaim street parking for recreational use, whether by laying down rugs and setting up lawn chairs and grills or moving in mini parks on wheels, complete with trees and benches. But rarely, if ever, do they plop down right on top of parked vehicles in order to use the space.

Located at Parking El Espolon, the installation is custom-fit to these three perfectly spaced vehicles, so of course, it’s not likely any angry unsuspecting car owners are going to come along to shake their fists. But the project is certainly a conversation starter, inviting people to climb up onto an “atypical terrace” to “discuss, debate and imagine a new world.”

“Benedetto Bufalino is, in his own way, an ‘arranger’. Like a DJ seizes music already heard to do something else – a “mix”, in this case – this young artist who has made his weapons in Lyon and in design, he also, “remix” the real. Does an Ibiza model car evoke summer, beach, the art of seaside idleness? Bufalino redevelops it so as to transform it into a jacuzzi. Let’s stay in the car registry, which inspired the artist a lot. Engine in operation of a car, which produces heat in abundance? It can serve as a barbecue, once topped with a cooking grill. A long limousine, of the kind we like for weddings in Las Vegas? It will be advantageously open, its roof cut and removed, and transformed into urban friendly space.”

via PopUpCity

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Dis Dressed: DressBarn Buys The Farm

[ By Steve in Design & Graphics & Branding. ]

Unfortunately named women‘s wear retailer DressBarn is slamming the door on 650 retail stores in 45 states as sales decline and branding loses focus.

Barn Storm

DressBarn made its debut in 1962 – a time when American women were flooding into the workforce and unlike the era’s Mad Men, had a limited choice of workwear options from which to chose from. Founder Roslyn Jaffe’s bright idea was a hit then… but a Misses now. Kudos to Flickr member Mike Mozart for the two images above taken in early April of 2014.

Agri Culture Wars

In 1982 the company was listed on NASDAQ (symbol DBRN) and in 2011 the reorganized firm was renamed Ascena Retail Group, Inc. DressBarn was flying high… or was it? By almost any measure, the American economy has been on a roll for the better part of the past decade. Yet on May 21st of 2019, Ascena announced the imminent closing of all 650 DressBarn stores. By the way, Flickr member stevetursi‘s image above illustrates what must be the cheesiest “corporate headquarters” we’ve ever seen. Just sayin’.

Not Makin’ Hay

The announcement deals a haymaker (pun intended) to roughly 6,800 employees with the pain spread nationwide as DressBarn has stores in 45 states. “This decision was difficult, but necessary,” explained Steven Taylor, chief financial officer of Dressbarn, “as the DressBarn chain has not been operating at an acceptable level of profitability in today’s retail environment.” One might say management is closing the (Dress)Barn door after the horse has escaped but that would be too obvious, so we won’t. The store above, located in Torrington, CT and snapped by Flickr member JJBers in mid-2018, appears to be getting the jump on the mass-closing.

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Optochromie: Vivid Digital Mural on a New York Concert Hall by Felipe Pantone

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

The latest in street artist Felipe Pantone’s stunning Optochromie series splashes across the facade of the Town Ballroom concert hall in Buffalo, New York, giving it a dramatic makeover. Black and white geometric prints overlaid with prismatic pixelated colors interplay with stretched out metallic elements, all created in computer modeling programs before they were painted onto the wall.

For fans of Pantone, this is familiar imagery reimagined in a fresh new way. The self-taught multidisciplinary artist, who does a lot of gallery work as well, is known for juxtaposing graphic patterns to achieve dynamic compositions, sometimes in sculptural form. Pantone’s signature style is highly influenced by the look of computer graphics in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when he was a child

The artist, who began painting on the streets as a preteen, cites Op Art and Kinetic Art of the 1960s as additional major influences, including the work of Victor Vasarely, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Julio Le Parc and Luis Tomasello.

“I was always trying, as every graffiti writer, to stand out in the streets so I started to emphasize on the contrast pictorially ending each piece in black and white,” Pantone says in an interview with Wide Walls. “I ended up realizing that by painting so much black and white I was approaching nearly optic pieces, so I slowly started adding up the full colour spectrum, which made my pieces more visible, with fluorescent colours. Quoting Joan Fontcuberta, there are more images generated than the number which we can consume, and as the artist has to out stand and graffiti has so much to do with art, I thought I should focus my effort on remaining visible over time.”

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