Couple spent seven years handcrafting their dream geodesic home

October 3, 2017 by  
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Sheila Williamson and her husband spent over seven years building their dream home, meticulously crafting a gorgeous three-domed geodesic home using reclaimed wood . Located just outside of San Francisco, the home is currently on the market . Located just 30 minutes outside of San Francisco, the home’s atypical design was challenging from the start. According to Williamson, the first hurdle was to battle with the city to get the required building permits. “Just getting the permit was a bit of a challenge because [the building department] had no idea what we were talking about.” Related: Five Great Reasons to Build a Geodesic Home Williamson and her husband designed and – with the help of an engineer – built the 3-sphere, 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom home themselves. Inspired by the work of famed architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller, the dome design began to take shape. Using reclaimed pieces of wood from a nearby warehouse that had been demolished, the structure’s many triangular panels were cut by hand by the couple to create the dome shape . Beautiful hand-crafted stained glass accents are found throughout. The construction process was a community affair in many ways, with neighborhood children helping out in various ways. Reportedly, they even hid messages inside some of the panels to be read if the home is ever dismantled. Three geodesic domes make up the home, which is 1,700 square feet and strategically embedded into a serene, green-filled landscape. The largest dome houses the front entrance, which opens up into the living space with an open kitchen, office, and loft. The interior space is well lit thanks to a large window, which is made up of fourteen triangular panels, as well as a pentagonal skylight in the dome’s ceiling. A wooden open-air deck wraps around the structure, proving stellar views of the surrounding Diablo Valley. The smaller geodesic spaces contain the bedrooms on the upper floor. The master bedroom also has a beautiful skylight along with a private deck that overlooks the natural surroundings . In fact, the home’s close connection to its lush settings has always been the couple’s favorite part of the design, “It’s just the serenity, and it’s quiet at night. If you turn your back to the valley, you can see the stars,” Williamson said. “How often can you see the stars anymore? You can watch them progress across the sky over the year.” Unfortunately, Williamson’s husband passed away last year, prompting her to put the home on the market for $889,000. Via Dwell Photography by Todd Taylor of Taylor Photography Group

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Couple spent seven years handcrafting their dream geodesic home

SF Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

September 29, 2017 by  
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A symphony of strange and haunting music made from the waves can be heard at the tip of a jetty in San Francisco. Part sculpture, part musical instrument, the Wave Organ is an unusual land art installation that harnesses the rhythms of the water. Created by Exploratorium artists Peter Richards and George Gonzalez, the wave-activated sound sculpture is set atop the salvaged remains of a demolished cemetery and is one of the city’s best hidden gems. Installed in 1986, the Wave Organ is a somewhat obscure landmark, often overlooked due to its hard-to-find location at the end of a jetty east of the St. Francis Yacht Club. Making the trek out there, however, is worth it. Surrounded by stunning 360-degree views of the San Francisco bay, the environmental artwork harnesses the pulse of the sea through 25 PVC and concrete pipes located at various elevations that transmit the sounds of crashing waves and gurgling water to elevated openings for listening. Related: Incredible ‘Sea Organ’ uses ocean waves to make beautiful music The Wave Organ is best heard during high tide, but can still be enjoyed at other times of the day though the gurgling rhythms will be much quieter. The music of the bay, which is made by waves slapping against and pushed through the pipes, is relatively subtle. Visitors will need to sit and let their ears attune to the environment to fully enjoy the performance. Carved granite and marble salvaged from the demolished crypts of the city’s former Laurel Hill Cemetery provide plenty of seating. Times for high tides can be checked here . Via Exploratorium Images via Wikimedia , Shutterstock

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SF Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

Perkins + Will overhauls a boring concrete warehouse into beautiful LEED Gold offices

August 23, 2017 by  
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At first glance, it’s hard to imagine that this gorgeous light-filled building was once an uninspiring concrete monolith. It’s a testament to the architectural might of Perkins + Will , which transformed the 1940s military warehouse in San Francisco into the LEED Gold -certified Bay Area Metro Center. Constructed with recycled materials, this eight-story adaptive reuse project features soaring ceilings with state-of-the-art offices, community hearing spaces, a boardroom, and ground floor retail. Located at 375 Beale Street, this massive 525,000-square-foot building once served as a navy supply warehouse during World War II and exuded an air of impenetrability with its fortress-like facade. Perkins + Will and interior design firm TEF did away with the monolith’s bleak appearance with the addition of ample glazing and an seven-story-tall atrium that floods the building with natural light . The transformation created a welcoming and collaborative environment that consolidates four government agencies and offers diverse amenities including retail, workspaces, open coffee bars, and even bike storage. Reclaimed timber is used throughout the interior to lend a sense of warmth to the concrete structure. Wood rails were repurposed from the building and nearby sites as was the timber used for stair treads, countertops, and wall finishes. Splashes of greenery enliven the building including a tree well on the sixth floor, garden patio on the eighth floor, and a landscaped garden outside the main public hearing room. Related: Form follows function at Shanghai’s new bioclimatic Natural History Museum Perkins + Will wrote: “As part of a required seismic retrofit, shear walls were introduced at all perimeter walls to reinforce the structure without compromising the opportunity for open offices. Addressing both seismic and daylighting issues, a seven-story atrium was carved out the of the center of the building, both reducing the structural mass of the building and bringing much needed daylight to the building’s interior, decreasing energy use while creating a welcoming atmosphere. The atrium and interconnecting stairs also provide the opportunity for informal encounters between the various agency employees.” + Perkins + Will

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Perkins + Will overhauls a boring concrete warehouse into beautiful LEED Gold offices

Vertical farming startup raises $200M from Alphabet, Jeff Bezos

July 21, 2017 by  
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Indoor vertical farming is on the rise, if a recent funding round for San Francisco startup Plenty is any indication. The company just scored what they say is the largest agriculture technology investment in history. Plenty has attracted attention – and quite a lot of money – from well-known tech greats like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Plenty is utilizing technology to improve agriculture. The startup draws on big data processing, micro-sensor technology, and LED lighting in an effort to make affordable, local food available for people around the world. Their system uses less water and space than conventional farms, and grows food more efficiently. Plenty says they can yield as much as 350 times more crops per square foot than a typical farm. Their recent Series B funding round, led by Japanese media corporation SoftBank ‘s Vision Fund, turned out to be quite fruitful at $200 million. Related: 40-foot shipping container farm can grow 5 acres of food with 97% less water SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said in a statement, “By combining technology with optimal agriculture methods, Plenty is working to make ultra-fresh, nutrient-rich food accessible to everyone in an always-local way that minimizes wastage from transport. We believe that Plenty’s team will remake the current food system to improve people’s quality of life.” Plenty will use the $200 million to start expanding, and plan to bring their first produce to market later this year. They plan to grow two to five acre indoor farms, which the BBC said is around the size of a Walmart or Home Depot. The company already employs 100 people working in three facilities in Wyoming and San Francisco. Initially, Plenty will provide mainly leafy greens and herbs for distributors that have already signed on, according to co-founder and CEO Matt Barnard. He said in a statement, “The world is out of land in the places it’s most economical to grow these crops. After a decade of development driven by one of our founders, our technology is uniquely capable of growing super clean food with no pesticides nor GMOs while cutting water consumption by 99 percent…We’re now ready to build out our farm network and serve communities around the globe.” + Plenty Via Plenty and the BBC Images via Plenty Facebook

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Tesla rival Faraday Future’s trippy space-age campus will blow your mind

July 20, 2017 by  
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Beijing-based MAD Architects just unveiled designs for Faraday Future’s new campus—and it looks like something straight out of the Jetsons. The electric car company, once hailed as the “Tesla Killer,” plans to relocate its headquarters from Los Angeles to Mare Island, north of San Francisco. The stunning campus features sleek and sci-fi-esque buildings that reference the aerodynamic shape of Faraday Future’s recently unveiled FF91 , a self-driving vehicle said to be the world’s fastest-accelerating electric car. Faraday Future’s new Northern California campus will be set along the Napa River on Mare Island’s former navy base, which was recently positioned as a “ zero-emission base in California.” MAD Architects’ low-energy campus will cover approximately 130,000 square meters, while the building area will take up approximately 15 percent of the site. The focal point of the campus will be the user experience center marked by a sculptural reflective tower and an exposed winding ramp. Clients will be able to watch the cars move from the warehouse along the elevated light rail down to the exhibition hall. Related: Faraday Future’s FF91 smashes speed record of Tesla Model S in ludicrous mode “MAD’s proposal consists of two low, metallic structures embedded within the site’s prairie landscape, suggesting extraterrestrial objects capable of de-familiarizing employees and prospective clients with the status quo of the contemporary automotive market,” wrote the architects. “In addition, MAD hopes to provide a flexible, and ductile working environment for the growth of its employees and the advancement of the company’s high-tech innovations.” Large roof overhangs, internal courtyards, and operable glass facade systems will help passively reduce solar gains and allow for natural ventilation . There will be an abundance of natural light and easy access to indoor and outdoor social spaces. Modular rooftop solar panels and wind turbines are expected to produce enough energy to support the entire campus’ daily operational demands. + MAD Architects

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Tesla rival Faraday Future’s trippy space-age campus will blow your mind

New online grocery store sells quality goods for just $3

July 17, 2017 by  
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Whether you’re shopping for a facial cleanser, gluten-free brownie mix, or bowls and mugs for your kitchen, everything you seek can be obtained at incredible low prices through Brandless . The new online retailer based out of San Francisco, California is selling nearly 200 generically packaged staples for a mere $3. Products include pantry items, beauty products, office and household supplies and personal care items. Best of all, over 50 percent of the items are organic , with many of the foods being free of preservatives, GMO-free and gluten-free. According to co-founder Tina Sharkey, the goal of Brandless is to “democratize goodness,” and ensure every consumer has access to affordable, basic necessities. “We feel like as a nation, we have become quite polarized, and we see all people as the same,” Sharkey  told NBC News . “We deeply believe people being able to live their values.” Some of the products presently being advertised on the Brandless website include organic applesauce, sea-salt quinoa chips, a six-ounce bag of fair-trade Colombian coffee, virgin coconut oil, and an eight-inch serrated bread knife. Because the store specialized in packaged nonperishables, no produce, bread, frozen goods, dairy or meat is sold. However, that doesn’t mean consumers aren’t receiving great deals. One can expect to pay $9 flat rate in shipping, unless they spend $72, in which case shipping is free. An annual membership costing $36 allows one to receive free shipping if their shopping cart totals $48 or more. As Today reports, Brandless can afford to sell a variety of high-quality products for $3 because none of the items on the shelves are brand names. In fact, all are unique to Brandless, which co-founder Ido Leffler says saves money in retail space, warehousing and distribution by eliminating the “brand tax” that often makes products cost up to 40 percent more. Before any item is sold, both Leffler and Sharkey approve the products, going through multiple rounds of taste tests before settling on what they want. They hope to attract health-conscious consumers and believe that in time, Brandless can rival stores such as Whole Foods , Sprouts and Trader Joes. Related: EarthCraft-certified Organic Life House teaches Atlanta agrihood residents about healthy living The co-founders are aware they need to sell a lot of the products to be successful, so the goal right now is to reach as many customers as possible. “We will absolutely scale our logistics and operations to work to delight everybody as quickly and we can,” said Sharkey. ”We’re just getting started.” + Brandless Via Today , GrubStreet Images via Brandless

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New online grocery store sells quality goods for just $3

Richard Branson’s new supersonic jet will fly 2X faster than the speed of sound

May 12, 2017 by  
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Would you like to travel between New York City and London in just 3 hours and 15 minutes? In a few years, that could be possible. Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic and startup Boom Technology have partnered to build a supersonic aircraft capable of zipping through the skies faster than the speed of sound. Live Science reports that the passenger aircraft would be capable of traveling through the skies faster than the Concorde jet or any other commercial aircraft today. The plane won’t be the first aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound, but it will be the first modern, supersonic passenger jet that travels at Mach 2.2. In case you’re wondering, that is twice the speed of sound, or 1,451 mph (2,335 km/h). The now-retired Concorde was capable of flying at speeds of about 1,350 mph (2,180 km/h). At Mach 2.2, passengers could travel between San Francisco and Tokyo in 5.5 hours, or between Los Angeles and Sydney in less than 6 hours and 45 minutes. In a blog post , CEO and founder of Boom Technology Blake Scholl said that one of the startup’s goals is to set a new speed record for civil aircraft. “Building a supersonic airplane is not easy — but it is important,” Scholl wrote. “While we love the hard engineering and technical challenges, what really drives us is the enormous human benefit of faster travel . Related: Sir Richard Branson urges prime minister David Cameron to back renewable energy Reportedly, Scholl is most excited about the positive implications supersonic commercial travel may bring, as it will make the farthest regions of the planet more accessible. “Imagine traveling across the Atlantic [Ocean], getting business done [in Europe] and being home to tuck your children into bed,” Scholl wrote, “or saving two whole days of a typical round-trip itinerary to Asia. … When time is no longer a limit, where will you vacation? Where will you do business?” Having raised $33 million in funding to develop the startup’s first supersonic passenger jet , the company will begin constructing the “Baby Boom” prototype. Then, a prototype of the eventual full-size Boom aircraft, which will carry 55 passengers in all-business-class configuration, will be built. Air Transport World (ATW) reports that the Baby Boom’s first test flight is scheduled for 2018, and the full-size Boom for 2020. Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to follow shortly afterward. Via Live Science Images via FighterSweep , Forbes

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Richard Branson’s new supersonic jet will fly 2X faster than the speed of sound

14,000 forced from homes by flooding in San Jose

February 23, 2017 by  
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A series of heavy rainstorms has caused severe flooding near San Jose, California, forcing a mandatory evacuation of at least 14,000 residents overnight . About 250 of those people had to be rescued via boat by emergency crews. The flooding affected Coyote Creek and the spillway of the Anderson Reservoir, which was filled to capacity by the recent rain. An additional 22,000 have not been ordered to evacuate yet, but have been encouraged to leave their homes. Some of those affected have complained that they received no advance notice that they needed to evacuate until firefighters showed up, delivering notifications door-to-door, leaving them little time to prepare. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has pledged to investigate the issue. Floodwaters have begun to recede, however, the danger may not have passed. Further rain is forecast for this weekend, but the break in the rain should allow authorities time to assess the current damage. Water levels in Coyote Creek are already at a 100 year peak, so any additional rain could be dangerous. Related: California storms could herald the end of punishing historic drought After a lengthy drought, heavy storms have pummeled much of California this year, causing mudslides and flooding. Earlier in the month, nearly 200,000 people were evacuated near the Oroville dam due to fears it might overflow. Via NPR Images via AJ+

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Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan donate $3.6 million to stem SF housing crisis

February 9, 2017 by  
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Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook , and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, are donating millions of dollars to help to help mitigate the effects of San Francisco’s so-called “housing crisis.” The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative , the limited liability vehicle the duo established in 2015 for their philanthropic endeavors, is giving $3.1 million to the Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto , a nonprofit legal-aid group that works with evicted and displaced individuals and families of limited means. Another $500,000 will benefit the University of California, Berkley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation , which works to solve housing challenges through research and policy. “In the Bay Area, few challenges are greater than the need for affordable housing,” David Plouffe, president of policy and advocacy for the initiative, said in a statement. “[The grants] will support those working to help families in immediate crisis while supporting research into new ideas to find a long-term solution—a two-step strategy that will guide much of our policy and advocacy work moving forward.” CLSPEA says it will portion some of its grant, which will be doled out over three years, to grassroots partners such as Faith in Action-Bay Area and Youth United for Community Action . The money will help the organization serve an additional 2,500 residents, according to Daniel Saver, senior staff attorney for CLSEPA’s housing program. Most of them live in in East Palo Alto, Belle Haven, and North Fair Oaks, and many either risk displacement or live in unsafe conditions. Related: Mark Zuckerberg announces he will give 99% of his Facebook shares to charity “Housing is on the tip of everyone’s tongue in the Bay Area,” Saver told the Mercury News . “The crisis affects people all across the gamut: middle class and working class, teachers, nurses, service workers … and especially people of color are being written out of our communities by rising rents and unjust evictions. It’s not just a housing crisis that we have; we have a displacement disaster on our hands. We’re bleeding people out of our communities every single day.” Carol J. Galante, faculty director at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, said Chan and Zuckerberg’s largesse will help her group “figure out how the Bay Area can get out of the difficult situation it’s in relative to such high costs of housing.” She is, at the moment, editing a paper about off-site construction and how the construction industry “ramp that up” in a way that not only lowers costs by 20 percent but also curtails building time by 40 percent. “A portion of the apartment that you’re building is prebuilt in a factory,” she explained. “Think of it as bringing in Legos and stacking them together on top of the foundation.” Via Mercury News Photos from Facebook

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Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan donate $3.6 million to stem SF housing crisis

Wild bison return to Canada’s Banff National Park for the first time in 140 years

February 9, 2017 by  
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Wild bison are coming home to Canada’s Banff National Park for the first time in roughly 140 years. Although bison were common sights in the Canadian landscape with a population that numbered in the millions in the early 1800s, these huge and herbivorous mammals nearly disappeared by the end of the 19th century as a result of hunting. Now 16 bison are back at Banff as part of a carefully planned conservation effort to re-establish the species within the area’s ecosystem. With any luck, the herd’s numbers will be growing soon: many of the transferred bisons are pregnant.

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Wild bison return to Canada’s Banff National Park for the first time in 140 years

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