Current Affairs

of Technology & Time Bandits



April, 1981. I was in my 3rd year of architecture school in Brooklyn, NY, and was a bit of a space junkie. Had been since watching the Apollo missions while growing up. The shuttle was all over the news then- before internet, before cable news. My roomates & I watched the first lift off on a tiny b&W tv (we were one of the few who had tv's in the dorm then!). I recall how thrilling it was...


Cut to 30 years later and while waiting to leave for a week's vacation I turn on the tv (flat screen, HD, cable, FiOS) just in time for the last shuttle launch.


Only this time I get to share it with my son Ethan. I had the volume up loud. 0 to 600MPH in less then  a minute- awesome. He was excited, and so was I...




It is excruciating to me to watch the devastation in Haiti. The countless lives lost, the families shattered and a nation torn asunder. It is uplifting to see the worldwide response, but the questions remain: How can an entire nation be rebuilt from something like this? Roughly 20% of the country is now homeless. How does the world respond to something of this magnitude? How do you build permanent, safe housing for all those displaced survivors? I hope and pray that the architectural community and the construction industry is up to the job and that these people can have some modicum of dignity restored to their shattered world.

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New Market Specific Website

We have finally gotten the first iteration of our new PACE Community Center website up after several months to trying. Don't get too excited about it, since there is still a lot of information that needs to go into it, but at least it is a start.

PACE Center Design

If you are wondering why we have this site, it is directed at healthcare organizations that are interested in opening and operating a Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly. This model of care delivery started in California back in the 70's, and you can read more about it here. PACE is new to NJ, and we were the first architectural firm to design a NJ specific PACE community center for LIFE-St Francis. You can check out the project here. Click on the image that rolls over as LIFE St. Francis.

If you are interested in learning more about PACE in NJ, or PACE in general, please feel free to give us a call or drop us an email. We will put you in touch with the right person to answer your questions. Feel free to let us know what you think about the site too.


The pain of growing smart.

NJ Future had an op/ed piece in the Trenton Times today that looked at what it might take for NJ to become a livable state once again. I really like the premise and the direction, but am pessimistic about it happening. Does anyone think that the power brokers really care about anything like good ideas? The thought of my local school board actually giving up autonomy for the greater good makes me shiver, and not in a good way. The institutionalized indifference to big ideas (either good or bad, but especially good) and the idea that "I/we can run things better than they can" kills me. If you feel the same way, I would love to hear from you about how we can affect systemic change at the local level, short of revolution (which, BTW, I would not mind...)


Climate Change Updates

A friend recently sent me an email that linked to a WSJ article on how the number of global warming deniers are growing. The gist of the article is that more and more 'expert' are saying that man-made global warming does not exist.I guess he missed the fact that this piece is actually an opinion piece and not an actual journalistic article. If you really want to entertain yourself, go on to read the comments section following the piece. You will see how divided this issue is.

Sure, there is a lot of data on both sides of the table regarding climate change and global warming. IMHO, they both exist and we are exacerbating something that is happening naturally right now. I leave the real debate as to what is causing it to smarter people than I (and all the 'experts' on that comments page).

My questions are these: What harm does it do to design buildings that are energy efficient and minimize carbon output? What harm does it do to drive a car that is a hybrid and reduces tailpipe emissions? What harm does it to do wean ourselves off oil, especially oil from despotic nations? What harm is there in being carbon neutral?

In the book Cradle to Cradle, Will McDonough and Micheal Braungart make the point that most folks think that doing 'less bad' is fine. But bad is still bad right? Lets try to actually do good! What harm can come of that?


Hamilton Township just does not get it...

I was greatly disappointed a week ago when I read an article in the Trenton Times about the approval of the housing development adjacent to the Hamilton Train Station. It is clear to me that Mayor Bencivengo and his staff do not understand sustainable planning and design, even though they are quick to pay lip service to the concept when it is beneficial to them.

Here is a quote from the Times article:

HAMILTON -- A five-year battle over a plan to build hundreds of residences near the train station appears to have ended this week when the planning board voted to approve the latest version of the project.

Saying they had no choice but to give approval, board members voted 6-1 Thursday night to permit Columbia Group at Hamilton, a venture led by Jack Morris of Piscataway-based Edgewood Properties, to move forward with construction.

"I cannot in good faith have the township spend additional taxpayer dollars on a lawsuit," if the application were rejected, said planning board member Mike Angarone, the township's economic development director.

"Government should do everything in its power to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again in Hamilton," he added, drawing applause from several people in the crowd of about two-dozen observers in the township municipal building.

You can read the full text here.

The Times followed up the story with an Op/Ed piece that hit the nail on the head. What is so wrong with this type of development? It is on top of a mass transit node, the building designs are primarily targeted for small families which commute to work in NYC or Philly, it will reduce the amount of cars on local streets and the list goes on and on. Hamilton has fallen into this rut where children and solid planning are now the enemies of the state. God forbid that the township tax base grows and it has a future. The town current PR likes to position itself as 'America's Favorite Hometown'. I guess that works as long as you don't want to start a family or have a family, and like sitting in traffic every time you venture out of you sprawl inducing development.


McAuliffe + Carroll Architects, LLC on YouTube, watch out John Stewart

After we were invited to Councilman Jim Coston's radio show several weeks ago, Jim was gracious enough to highlight us as the Southward Business of the Week on his blog. He even produced a short video on YouTube featuring Jim and I in various cool architect related poses. And don't ask me why I kept my hands in my pockets like some urban cowboy...



Sustainable Lawrence Green Building Expo

This Saturday is the Sustainable Lawrence Green Building Expo at the Lawrenceville School. We will be presenting again this year on Architecture and Design, and will be joined by a number of other presenters talking about various issues related to sustainability.

The keynote speaker is Marty Johnson from Isles. If you have never had a chance to hear Marty talk about sustainability, I highly recommend you attend. Isles has been working in the greater Trenton area since 1981 to great success and Marty brings a lot of experience and perspective with him.

Expo '09

More evidence on the benefits of mass transit and why NJ needs more...

NJ Future once again hits the nail on the head with its recent report, Getting to Work. In it they point out that New Jerseyans are almost at the top of the class when it comes to commuting via mass transit (second only to New Yorkers). That is if you work in Manhattan or Philly. If you take those commuters out of the equation, then NJ falls right out of the picture. The infrastructure for in-state mass transit commuting just does not exist. You can count the number of light rail lines in the state on one hand and there are no real plans afoot for more.

The most disturbing thing that we see in the report is the fact that jobs are actually migrating away from transit centers in the state. This is a trend that needs to be reversed, and rapidly. We are hopeful that the President-elect's stimulus plan will provide funding and incentives for the development of more transit oriented development, but I am yet to see any direct citation of this. The NY Time has a decent review of what the infrastructure component might look like.

It may be oversimplified, but the success of the city hinges on adequate transit (and I dont mean cars!) Cities=Density. And the best way to maintain density is to not have to deal with providing parking spaces for cars that should be staying at home.