Museums are extraordinarily diverse in their areas of focus. Some museums, such as the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, is so vast in scope and scale as to be utterly encyclopedic. In contrast,  other museums, like the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, offer a highly choreographed experience and concentrate on a specific person, place, or subjetct. The museum that our studio are working on is definitely the latter one, which narrowly focused on the hot topic Climate Change.

For the recent field trip in New York City, we started from the American Museum of Natural History where we guided by James Polshek.

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As the designer of Rose Center,  James Polshek elaborated his concept of and the design process with proud and excitement, which gave us a deeper understanding about the whole structure.

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Shortly after that, we got the access to the backstage of the museum: exhibition department,  where the designers and editors organized every single theme exhibit. In order to help us visualized our Climate Change subject better, they generously presented their work back to 2008 about the same topic as reference.

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Coming out of the American Museum of Natural History, we rushed into the site for our Climate Change Museum: Pier 57 along Hudson river.

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As a bonus tour, we were invited to RAA ( at the end of the day, looking into the design approach and the whole process for exhibit space.

Thank for the support and help of our teacher Peter Yeadon, outstanding architect James Polshek, the designers in American Museum of Natural History and RAA, as well as the Director Adam Zucker from Youngwoo & Associates.


From Viola Tian






Field Trip for TIFFANY Store in New York city!

Elsa Peretti Studio” that was what everyone called it. It is the world of perfect form and elegant design is what we keep observing and looking at and not just beautiful jewelry. For most of the people it is always the stunning shape and object that they consider as “piece of art”. But, for me it is the design that has logic and story behind is the one that has the most interesting process and attractive looks. Of course, this doesn’t mean that ANYTHING with a nice story is great and perfect, NO! But, I’m just trying to make a point here…


So, on a visit to Tiffany store in NewYork, there was a nice presentation held for us in which we were told a beautiful story about a great designer Elsa Peretti and how she was inspired by modest and everyday-objects from nature and then portrayed them differently, revealing what her eyes and mind perceived. It has always been strikingly amazing to me how great designs are usually inspired from the simplest things that exist around us all the time, or sometimes things that we grow with but never realize how inspiring they are to us..

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So, we were taken on a tour mainly to look at Elsa Peretti’s big collection of design pieces. It was really wonderful looking at the pieces, discussing and asking questions and daydreaming about wearing them and owning them and all that stuff. It was so much fun and appreciative than just looking at them on the website.

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Overall, it was enlightening and motivating, moreover it was exciting. I hope we all get to the point of designing with happiness, enjoyment and gratification, Good luck to everyone on their projects.

Group pic at tiffany

Thanks for the people who inspired us and gave us motivation to keep going and also people who arranged for our visit and nice presentation and tour.

Caterina Tiazzoldi, Elsa Peretti, Frank Arcaro, Raffaella Vartuli, Stefano Palumbo and

Linda Buckley.

From Rana R Maad

Urban Exploration

Abandoned coal mine complex - Chile

Urban exploration is the act of exploring spaces not intended for public use, such as abandoned buildings and city infrastructure. Though dangerous and fundamentally considered by many to be ‘illegal’, it is nonetheless a fascinating and thrilling activity, especially for the adventurous one who appreciates architecture, urban decay, and good old-fashioned exploration. It is also very much related to interior architecture and adaptive reuse, with many spaces no longer being used for their original intent, and having potential for adaptive reuse. Urban explorers encounter all kinds of these amazing and fascinating spaces that normally have no opportunity to be seen. Luckily, for those of us that aren’t dedicated urban explorers, we can enjoy these spaces vicariously through the photos and documentation provided by these brave and daring people.

There are now numerous on-line communities and resources dedicated to urban exploration. One in particular though is called Infiltration. It was started by Ninjalicious, a legendary man within the urban exploration community. He originally began it as a magazine, which now includes an accompanying website and he has even published a book. The website is comprehensive, including exploration documentation, discussion of its theory, and links to other resources. Enjoy!


8 Containers / 1 House

Hello Dear Fellow Followers,

Here at RISD we are starting our Spring semester. When I’m not too busy (yet), I like to wander around the web in search for blogs and interesting things to get inspired from. I stumbled upon this project, a house that reused not 1, not 2, but 8 shipping containers. it is quite interesting to think how large the house is, and only relying on the reuse of the inexpensive containers. Of course much work was needed to make the cold metal structure a home. The cuts trough the floor of some of them give double height volumes in the living room.

Also, feel free to explore this great website: Apartment Therapy, a great resource for cool projects for your home, and inspirations.

Paris-Belleville School of Architecture [adaptive reuse]

Fellow IntAR followers,

Happy fresh start for 2012.

Check out this video promoting the School of Architecture Paris-Belleville. The video relates the way the school is organized but also let you have a glance at the very interesting adaptive reuse project in the heart of Paris. The school, formerly located in a beautiful old Meccano factory, needed room as the amount of students had increased over the past decade. With the rehabilitation of three very different buildings from various eras, all empty and available a few blocks away from the old location, the architect Jean-Paul Philippon managed to connect them to make a unique school of architecture in the French Capital. The creation of a new building in its center built a core for the school and host the library. The main street facade on the boulevard, the former Diderot Technical High School, benefited from a very humble renovation, and the history of the building is still present in its architectural language. The rest of the school opens onto a courtyard, with modern facades.

Ecole Nationale d’Architecture de Paris-Belleville

Watch the video for a tour!


Adaptive Reuse

Here is an example of a great new adaptive reuse project, in true Canadian spirit: in downtown Toronto, the iconic Maple Leaf Gardens, previously home to the city’s hockey team for 68 years, reopened today after sitting unused for over 10 years. As a designated heritage building with great sentimental value, its transformation was a long and complicated process with many twists and turns. It has now become a flagship location for a national supermarket chain and an athletic facility for the nearby Ryerson University, while retaining elements and tokens of its original use. 

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(Photos- The Toronto Star)

Read the whole article here:–customers-lined-up-as-loblaw-opens-upscale-gardens-store?bn=1


Hello INTAR followers,

As a big fan of urban decay and adaptive re-use, I would like share some of my favorite inspirations with you, the INTAR community. To begin, the abandoned portions of the NYC subway system are a personal favorite. The system is over 100 years old, originally built by three competing companies, and is the lifeline of the city. Naturally, with that much history, it’s full of beautiful, fascinating abandoned segments.

This website does a very good job of documenting all of the abandoned portions, and provides a very detailed history of the use and lifetime of each individual abandoned segment. It’s fantastic.


RISD Student, quoted in Buenos Aires’ paper Sociedad.

Earlier this summer, in June, 25 students from various universities in the United States participated in the program called Special Projects: Sustainability in the Developing World, in collaboration with the BASIC Initiative. They worked on a project for the rehabilitation of a community library in one of Buenos Aires “villas” called the Piletones. One of the leading paper of the city, Clarin – Sociedad, wrote an article on the work of the design and architecture students and their involvement in the program.

Ricardo Haro, a RISD Interior Architecture student (MIA 2012) was quoted several times by the paper. He talked about his first impressions and first contact then his involvement with the community as well as his work in the “villa”.

Here is an excerpt from the article, translated from Spanish:

[…] Ricardo Haro is 26 years and is Mexican. He studies interior architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design and explains that the Piletones’ project spans over five years. “First we came and tried to gain the trust of the community and let people know what we could do in the neighborhood,” he says, books in hand, on the redesign that made the community library “Betting on the Future.”

Haro, […] recognizes that while there are many gaps in the neighborhood, he expected to meet “with a community worse off.” The reality of life in Los Piletones “was not a shock” to him. He has been in many villages of Mexico. “The difference is the origin of the people.” Here most are Bolivians, Paraguayans, Peruvians and Argentinians.

“At first, the kids looked at us, bothered,” says Haro. “Who are you and what are you doing here,” he said. “Now they greet us very well and do not see us as strangers anymore.” “We also had the opportunity to gain some experience. But we all came here because we wanted to help,” he says.

Jaime Andrés Benítez Cuartas, “Son estudiantes extranjeros y vinieron a ayudar en las villas,” Sociedad, August 17, 2011,

To read more of the article in Spanish follow the link below:

Sociedad article about the BASIC Initiative.


Faena Hotel in Buenos Aires designed by Philippe Starck

If you are familiar with the work of Philippe Starck, you know that the famous French designer has his hands on many projects all around the world, and especially through the firm YOO where he is a partner. In Buenos Aires, where the program “Sustainability in the Developing World” is set, you can find a hotel designed by Philippe Starck. The Hotel Faena Hotel And Universe is located in the former industrialized port district of the city, Puerto Madero. This “barrio” is now home of many new building development projects, and modern towers. The area is rapidly gentrifying and hosts many high-end restaurants, cafes and hotels. Despite its fresh new design and its attractiveness among tourists, the area is severely judged by the locals for its artificial look and the way it prevents views of the waterfront from older streets and buildings.

The project for the Hotel Faena is the adaptive reuse of an old brick building called El Porteño Building. The bricks were imported from England when it was built in Buenos Aires in 1902. The rehabilitation and conversion of the building into a hotel happened for a total of US$100 million [  !  ]

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