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A flying saucer lands on Grand Central Station, buildings are reclaimed after heinous murders, and we gape in horror at global warming skepticism.

Close encounters of the baffling kind.
Photo Credit: SOM

Historic preservation abducted by aliens

We love to talk about retrofits and building reuse around here, but the flying saucer of extravagance hovering over NYC's Grand Central Terminal has left me speechless. Just go look at Lloyd Alter’s slideshow of the SOM proposal and tell us what you think. (Use a synthesizer to express your opinions if necessary.)

How best to honor the dead through architecture?

It’s not always extraordinary buildings like Grand Central Station that have historic significance: the sites of mass murders end up going through various transformations after the headlines fade. David Hill has a thoughtful piece at Architectural Record about how architecture can help the healing process for survivors of events like the Columbine High School killings and the more recent Century 16 movie theater shooting.

A chilling tale of putting politics before science

I haven’t dared to watch the Frontline exposé on how climate skeptics have sown the seeds of mass doubt in the U.S., but somehow I couldn’t look away from Felicity Barringer’s review in the New York Times. “Very little of the production is about the science of climate change,” she writes. “The focus is rather on the ideology and political heft of the skeptics’ movement, and the way it found new life as the economy fell to pieces and the Tea Party arose from the wreckage.”

Building in cold blood (mixed with sand)

A British architecture school graduate has invented a brick that is based on blood instead of mud, reports Darren Quick at Gizmag. Intriguingly, it is “waterproof,” according to Quick, which makes me wonder if it’s a good idea from a hygrothermal perspective. (That’s after putting aside the more immediate heebie-jeebie factor, which I have trouble doing even though the blood is agricultural waste.) But apparently the inventor is proposing it for arid regions and is trying to raise money to build a whole house with them in Egypt.

A Hitchcock film for birds: The Skyline

Think all those crazed gulls, sparrows, and crows in The Birds were creepy? Check out Emily Badger’s piece at The Atlantic Cities about volunteers who roam Chicago’s sidewalks before dawn to pick up hundreds of stunned birds. The photos there illustrating why our buildings are constantly killing birds are almost as distressing as some of Hitchcock’s warped scenes. It makes you wonder why those cute little kinglets don’t attack us while we cower in phone booths, doesn’t it? To avoid that fate, check out our primer on bird-safe design strategies.

Also read

Mixed News for Birds, Wind Farms, and Buildings

Does Saving Historic Buildings Really Save Energy?

2030 Carbon Targets May Be Within Reach

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