Friday, December 13, 2013

Doorknob's Days Are Numbered

Doorknob's Days Are Numbered

Vancouver, British Columbia, has banished the doorknob, possibly sending it the way of the dodo in the process.
The grab-and-turn, humble round hardware will not be allowed in any new construction, commercial or residential, in the city beginning in March. Its replacement: the lever.
Existing doorknobs are not affected by the building code change, which the city approved in September.
Wikimedia Commons / BlastOButter42
Out: Vancouver has banned doorknobs in new construction as of March.
The change also applies to faucet handles.
Why? Proponents say that twisting a doorknob is difficult for the aged and people with disabilities.
Trending Now?
And the Vancouver Sun suggests that the doorknob's days may be numbered elsewhere. The newspaper notes that Vancouver is the only city in Canada with its own building code—and that that code has proved nationally influential in the past.
Ahead of the mandate, change is already afoot. Vancouver has reportedly removed the Art Deco knobs from its 70-year-old City Hall, replacing them with gold-colored levers, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.
Door handle
Wikimedia Commons / Kathy Apland
In: Handles are considered easier for aging and disabled people to use.
The doorknob—a device first patented in the U.S. in 1878 by Osbourn Dorsey—is just one potential casualty in the push to serve aging and disabled markets, Bloomberg notes.
Which means that there's gold in designing for that silver-haired population, potentially affecting everything from microwaves to sidewalks to dishes, experts say.
Designing for Aging
In the U.S. alone, the first of the Baby Boomers reached 65 (what used to be known as "retirement age") in 2011. Now, about 8,000 Americans a day will be turning 65 for the next 18 years, according toAARP.
The Arthritis Foundation, meanwhile, calls arthritis the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting one in five adults and 300,000 children.
The doorknob's demise has been met with mixed reviews in Vancouver, with some homeowners grumbling about nanny states and government micromanagement.
The shift is a big deal to those, like Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa, who consider the door handle "the handshake of the building."
But the city's former chief building inspector doesn't agree.
"Technology changes. Things change. We live with that," Will Johnston told the Vancouver Sun. "When I look at what we are proposing, it is simply good design.
"It allows for homes to be built that can be used more easily for everybody."

As a designer, do you think the doorknob is on its way out?  Is there any place in new construction for them?  Send me your thoughts!
Erin Yanchuleff

Friday, December 6, 2013

Texas Community Bakes up 36 Million Calories and a Whole lot of Holiday Spirit

The world’s largest gingerbread house doesn't just look sweet – it has a heart of gold.

The community of Bryan, Texas joined together to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gingerbread house and raise money for a local trauma center.

“Everybody got excited that we were trying to do this,” said Bill Horton, general manager of Texas A&M Traditions Club, who spearheaded the project.  “90% of all of the product was donated … from lumber to electrical supplies to eggs, brown sugar, powdered sugar, nutmeg and ginger.”

Guinness World Records verified that the 39,201.8 cubic-foot confectionery structure on the Traditions Club grounds set a new record on Nov. 30.  It is 60 feet by 42 feet and its tallest point rises 20.11 feet.

Club members, bakers and volunteers constructed the home with nearly 3,000 pounds of brown sugar, 7,200 eggs, 7,200 pounds of flour and 1,800 pounds of butter – for a whopping 36 million calories.

Visiting the house costs $2 for children and $3 for adults but several people have made generous donations.

Horton thought of the project in September 2012 while watching a Food Network special on gingerbread houses.  Their club initially set a target date for that November but soon realized that it would take a lot more work and postponed for a year.

Before construction began, employees at the St. Joseph Health System mentioned to Horton that they were raising money for a new trauma and emergency care center.  That’s when the project found its true purpose.

But they needed to stick to one rule in particular if they planned to dethrone the previous record holder, a 36,600 cubic feet home built inside the Mall of America in Minnesota.

“One of the criteria was that it had to be edible,” Horton said. “We had a little bit of proof that the structure was edible because it was covered with bees. I reached down and picked up a piece and started chewing it.”

A video of construction can be found here: NBC Article

Photo Credits: NY Daily News Article