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Maybe it was The Jetsons 1960’s interpretation of futuristic furniture or my time in Southern California that explains my affinity for Googie style architecture. Unfortunately for the popularity of Googie architecture, it sounds strikingly similar to the world’s number one search engine. Nonetheless, the style was a continuation of Space Age modernism of the 1940’s, its name borrowed from a coffee shop in West Hollywood. My favorite of the Googies’, and the only airport I ever enjoyed traveling through, was the spider-like Theme Building at LAX. The spider was never a control tower or any other functional component of the airport. Its only purpose was to mark the intended location of the central traffic hub noted in the original master plan of LAX. It’s now a non-revolving restaurant.

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60 bag moss architect biodegradable packaging

“Packaging” is a sort of ho-hum word to describe the shell for treasured goods being shipped across the country, or halfway around the world. It’s also a poor descriptor for the seductive sheath that researchers pour gallons of time into and designers stay up nights agonizing over. We’ve definitely made consumer choices based on packaging alone, simply because said item looks better on our dresser.

But nearly always, the shelf life of the packaging is a lot shorter than the time it took to dream up. That’s a lot of Styrofoam/plastic/etc. in a lot of garbage cans.

This week’s edition is about genius alternatives to vessels that far outlast their cargo.

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If you scroll down a little (or click here) you’ll remember that a few weeks ago, we posted about Chicago’s coldest day in recorded history. And then, for fun, we sought out the world’s coldest recorded temperature (-129 F!). Not that Antarctica has any permanent residents or anything (it doesn’t) but wondering how people kept alive in the cold before Central Heating laid the foundation for the first of a series of posts we’re doing on ancient architectural techniques, and how some of them can inform a more sustainable future.

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moss green architect zoigl

moss’ newest brewery project, Begyle Brewing (formerly Argyle Brewing Co.) models itself after the increasingly popular CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and is Chicago’s first “CSB” (Community Supported Brewery). Founders Matt Ritchey, Kevin Cary and Brendan Blume decided to start their subscription based brewery after a few brainstorming sessions. Like CSAs, members will receive a share of craft beer on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. Begyle is expected to open its craft beer programs starting this summer.

Though it’s new to Chicago’s shores, community-sustained brewing finds its roots deep in German history. In the 13th and 14th centuries, central brewhouses in each town would produce the liquid base of beer, called the wort, which was then collected by individual citizens. These select few would ferment the wort, and then place a special sign on their door (Zoigl, pictured above.) The six-pointed star looks just like a Star of David, but it’s actually a brewer’s star, one point for each beer-making element: hops, yeast, malt, grain, water and brewer. The Zoigl signaled to townsfolk that their neighbor had opened a temporary, communal pub in his home, a.k.a., to come over and have a cold one. After the beer from that house was gone, the next homebrewer would collect his wort and so the good people of the town were never without local beer (one hopes.)

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Prone though Chicago is to crazy weather indecision, a March this sunny exceeded our expectations. Not that we didn’t already skip over a winter that was predicted to create a mass exodus from the Windy City this past season (we’re still here). We keep hearing about record-breaking temperatures all over the map, but we want superlatives this afternoon. So, what was the coldest Chicago winter day? And how did this one stack up?

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moss green architect beer in the snow

The refrigerator present in most Western kitchens today wasn’t invented all that long ago. Carl Van Linde developed the technology in the 1870’s, but his ammonia-based fridges still required separate motors, and inhaling the toxic gases within led to a few deaths—not ideal. The first freestanding, commercially available fridge hit shelves (well, floors) in 1913, and wasn’t really perfected until the 1930’s. Iceboxes and burying perishables in the ground preceed both models by thousands of years.

But the current model isn’t done evolving yet. Refrigerators still consume about a 6th of the energy used in the average American home. This week’s edition includes inspiring fridges that use little to no electricity, instead keeping food cold/preserved using methods from sand to biopolymers.

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Today marks the one year anniversary of the Lakeview Area Master Plan (LAMP) reveal. During the research phase of LAMP, the number one feature Lakeview residents expressed need for was more public space. One of our suggestions was to create the LowLine, sprucing up the currently dingy path below the Chicago Brown Line’s tracks with native plants and solar lamps to connect and beautify the neighborhood. More inside.

Our work at Flirty Cupcakes dessert garage featured in Design Sponge.

Check out the article here.

Original project post here.

The web may not be climate change-combat’s poster child, but it may be its knight in shining armor. On the one hand we know that outlet usage has increased a lot since the internet and its buddies (smartphones, bluetooth keyboards, ipods) burst onto the scene; on the other, it has saved trees, and more to the point, whipped global communication into a frenzy the likes of which the pre-internet world never dreamed of. Even more to the point, sourcing and spreading data has become a whole lot easier. But the connotations of data, once a word reserved for Dexter’s Laboratory, have changed, too. The Internet has infused it with a new sense of community, accessibility, and at the very least, made it prettier. The idea that the web community and data interact with each other as that data is being accrued is revolutionary for anyone wishing to tread lighter on our planet.

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Our work at 2 Sparrows Restaurant is featured in the 2012 Winter issue of CS Interiors Magazine.  Article inside. Read the rest of this entry »

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