Ask Danny

Ask Danny

My Top 5: Exciting Developments in Architecture

by Jerry T. on Jun 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM in Architecture

Jerry T.

What are some buildings and/or Architecture firms that you are excited about lately?

Danny Forster

Some firms that are doing really interesting work as of late (in no particular order): 1. Studio Gang Architects: Aqua Tower, 2. SNOHETTA: National 9/11 Museums and Memorial Pavilion, 3. Preston Scott Cohen: Nanjing Performing Arts Center and Tel Aviv Museum of Art (TAMA), 4. SHoP: Barclays Center (the new Net’s Stadium at the Atlantic Yards), 5. nARCHITECTS: Double Ex House Read my article on these architectural developments here.

Building Greener

by Sarah G. on Feb 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM in Sustainability

Sarah G.

I’m thinking about building a house, and I want to go green. Where do I begin?

Danny Forster

Well, the best thing to do is to hire DANNY FORSTER Design Studio. They really know what they’re doing over there. But, okay, if you can’t hire me as your personal DESIGNER, which is the best way to go? Start with the simple stuff. Where’s the sun? Where are the windows? AND will my house be hot or cold as a result of these environmental and circumstantial factors. In other words, look to see if there are low-cost, passive strategies to help mitigate issues that would otherwise get picked up by heating and air conditioning systems. And then look at the materials—Where’s the wood and siding coming from? Is it traveling a great distance to get to your project? Are there local providers that can get you certified lumber? There are wonderful companies providing sustainable and affordable options for almost every material you need. If you want to go further, you should consider whether a geothermal system is an option for your site. It takes longer to recoup an investment in solar panels, but if that’s not an issue, consider them as well. Finally, all kidding aside, you should really consider hiring an architect. They will cost 10 percent of your budget or more, but they should be able to save you at least that amount with careful planning, careful spending, and . . . how do I put this gently? . . . by not making all the mistakes an amateur would make.

What’s Next?

by Jack M. on Jan 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM in The Rising

Jack M.

When’s the Rising Coming out?

Danny Forster

Great question! Look for The Rising answers here: The Rising.

Working On Site

by Trishala B. on Nov 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM in Construction

Trishala B.

You make it look so easy just to pop over and join a massive worksite somewhere. Do things ever go wrong?

Danny Forster

You’re right: usually things go quite smoothly. We’re not investigating human rights abuses, after all—at its heart it’s a positive show celebrating civic accomplishment. The designers, the contractors, and the workers are generally proud of what they’re doing, eager to show it off and helpful. And frankly, unlike how it was when we got started, now people know who are and generally what to expect—and in many cases it’s the projects that now come to us, as opposed to the other way around. But there are glitches. The worst by far was in Mumbai; the very name of that city still gives me cold sweats. Everything went wrong on that project. Construction was not really far enough along for filming. We got arrested for not having proper permits. And to top it off, we all got so sick, doctors had to come to the hotel to treat us—we couldn’t make it to the hospital. Mumbai chewed us up and spit us back to the US. It took us six months to get well enough to go finish the job—and keep in the mind this is 1st time in the history of Build It Bigger where we had to go back to a location in order to get a show. That said, we got the show, and it’s a good one.

Sustainability on a Big Scale

by Adam S. on May 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM in Sustainability

Adam S.

It’s clear from your website and your design studio that you’re really into sustainable design. Aren’t some of these massive projects on Build It Bigger the opposite of that?

Danny Forster

Well, yes, certainly sustainability isn’t the point of a lot of them. But even those tend to have sustainable elements—a technology or an efficiency that we try to highlight. I think you’ll see that in almost every episode, we try to fold sustainability into the show somehow. (We tried, by the way to do a whole series on sustainable design. Did you see Build It Bigger: Rebuilding Greensberg? No? That’s why it isn’t on anymore.) And we don’t cover projects that are really obviously bad for the Earth—like the Three Gorges Dam in China. Amazing, unprecedented scale (just the way we like it!) but an ecological and human disaster, so in that case Build It Bigger passed. So even in the shows we don’t end up doing, there is an awareness of sustainability and the overall impact of these megaprojects. On the other hand, we did visit the Deriner Dam in Turkey for this upcoming season. There are environmental unequivocal impacts that come with the construction a reservoir and dam, but to us they appeared to be balanced by Turkey’s attempts to shift away from fossil fuels by using more hydroelectric power. These are complicated issues (and sometimes contradictory), and we don’t shy away from them. Do I wish all giant projects were 100% sustainable? Yes, but that’s just not how things work. Yet.