The Rio Games

The city and state of Rio is a beautiful and intriguing place to be. The culture and lifestyle of Rio is unique to Brazil and everywhere else. There are common sense rules about how to live there, or survive there as a tourist, just as there are in other exotic cities and places. Rio has significant difficulties, but it would be unfair to malign it as a whole, just as it would be to look at Chicago only for its horrendous gun violence.

Nevertheless, as the NBC coverage of the Americans at the Olympics is about to end, and the USA’s mining of gold complete, it begs the question why the Olympics needed to be held there in the first place. The decline in Zika infections is probably the greatest post-Olympic benefit to Rio, because there does not seem to be any value that the Olympics have produced for Rio’s culture, economy, infrastructure, social equity, or world perception, and, certainly not for its architecture.

The International Olympic Committee, as well as their counterparts in nations around the world, perpetuates a thirst for hosting the Olympic games that etherizes away all economic common sense. In an inexplicable effort to do anything to get them, cities ignore what are their real needs to sustain and improve their urban environments. With few exceptions, the Olympics have done more to ruin host cities than to improve them.

If the Olympics are to perpetuate, they should be both economically and environmentally sustainable. Why not alternate holding the Olympics between two locations – Athens and Chamonix (the two original modern Olympic hosts, and in the case of Athens – its inventor)? All participating nations, and of course NBC, should share in building permanent facilities of great architecture, and maintaining them. It makes economic sense, environmental sense, and it would help thwart corruption, favoritism, and politics. For a change, it would be nice to focus on the sporting events of the Olympics.

Studio Playlist: May Day - Cuba!

Guajira Guantanamera              

Compay Segundo

Juana Bacallao                           

Juana Bacallao

Mambo No. 5                               

Pérez Prado 


Buena Vista Social Club

Chan Chan                                    

Compay Segundo

Quizas, Quizas (Bolero Cha)    

Ruben Gonzalez

Calzada del Cerro                       


Amor Verdandero                      

Afro Cuban All Stars

Rumba Caliente                          

Elio Revé y su Charangón

El Negro Esta Cocinando        

Los Van Van

Todo lo bonito (En Directo)   

Lazaro Valdés y Bamboleo

La Negra Tiene Tumbao        

Celia Cruz

Gozando En La Habana          

El Chacal, Charanga Habanera & David Calzado

No Vale la Pena                        

Issac Delgado

A Mis Abuelos                           

Arturo Sandoval


Danay Suárez

El Party (feat. Micha)             




Don't Unplug My Body           

Daymé Arocena

Mambo Break                          

Wichy de Vedado

Me Recordarás                        

Diana Fuentes

La Mulata Rumbera                

Roberto Carcasses

Alas Escarlatas                         

Yilian Canizares

Yemaya - Son Montuno                       

Roberto Fonseca


X Alfonso


Second Tuesdays: The First Twenty-Six

We started a thing in our office this year called Second Tuesdays where two employees give a presentation on the second Tuesday of each month about what’s going on with the firm — what they want to cover and how they choose to do so is entirely their choice, with no prior review. The first one was last week, it became more of a history of the firm and turned out to be pretty funny as well. Click here to take a look at the video.

25 Years: Brininstool + Lynch Offices

Brininstool + Lynch first designed this 7,500-square foot, three-story building twelve years ago for a group of theoretical physicists. B + L removed the front of the 1920s brick-and-concrete building and replaced it with a beautifully detailed steel-and-glass façade, and completely renovated the interior. The building became available in late 2012, just as Brininstool + Lynch was looking for new office space, and the firm built out its studios on the top two floors. A soffit floats above the studio from one end of the building to the other, providing a concealed space for mechanical equipment and lighting. Millwork volumes separate workspaces from conference rooms, and translucent glass provides privacy where desired while still admitting light.

25 Years: Arup SoundLab

Arup enlisted Brininstool + Lynch to collaborate in designing an enclosure for their new SoundLab within their existing Chicago office, located in the historic Jewelers Building. The room was conceived as a glowing, living object in their space to project the importance of this growing market sector for Arup. We created an acoustical envelope from conventional framing, gypsum board, and a thick layer of fabric-wrapped sound absorbing panels on the interior. On the exterior of the room, translucent acrylic wall panels are set in gasketed aluminum channels and are backlit with a programmable LED fixture that can range in color across the RGB spectrum. The detail of this illuminated acrylic has made SoundLab the physical and conversational focal point of Arup’s Chicago practice.

25 Years: Wood House

Designing this Chicago residence was an exercise in creating a sense of privacy within an urban neighborhood, while providing an abundance of open, bright space. The first floor is defined by floor-to-ceiling views from the landscape in the front to the courtyard at back; from living room, to kitchen, to media room. The second floor has private rooms with northern and eastern light, appropriate for comfortable sleeping spaces. The third floor provides solitude for working and adjacent outdoor areas of repose that encompass views over the courtyard, the neighborhood, and to the city skyline. Together, they comprise a rational and inspiring response to the basic needs of living, sleeping, and working. The views, copper screens, connections to the exterior, and careful detailing create a serene and distinctive environment.

25 Years: Enova

Brininstool + Lynch used several creative strategies to divide the 18,000-square-foot floor plate of Enova's office into distinct and recognizable zones. The elevator and stair core is enclosed in bright blue acrylic sheets that are offset from the wall and backlit to create a glowing blue box that is visible from almost every vantage point on the floor. Private offices and audio/video conference rooms – enclosed in either translucent or transparent glass – surround the core on the east, west, and north sides, with two of those sides facing walls of windows. Brininstool + Lynch also created a 150-foot-long feature wall, constructed of custom formed recycled fiberboard panels set in an irregular, undulating pattern that creates a wave-like effect. The design of this office successfully weaves together function and aesthetics, exceeding the client's expectations and leaving a strong and positive impression on employees and visitors.

25 Years: Basecamp

Basecamp, a web based software company in Chicago, hinges on the philosophy “less is more” in both their software design approach and their business objectives. To design an effective yet minimalistic workspace, a rectangular volume of team rooms intended for project specific collaboration was inserted into an open plan. The volume is wrapped in a custom configuration of sound absorbing material: stacked industrial felt strips reminiscent of chalkboard erasers. The felt material frames large magnetic chalkboard and glass panels that are inset into the central volume. To provide contrast to the neutral grays and blacks and increase sound absorption, custom cork panels line the interior of the team rooms and a red carpet tile was designed for the floors. In response to their new 10,000 square foot loft workspace, the company’s founder says, “our own work is all about paying attention to the small stuff, and the design brings a thoughtful response to that.”

25 Years: Coffou Cottage

This cottage was designed with a simple structural system, a horizontal red cedar rain screen on the north, and a wall of operable glass on the south. The open plan of the kitchen, dining room, living area, and porch intensifies views to the meadow and woods to the south while also maximizing solar gain in the winter. Radiant heat in the ground concrete floor is enhanced by passive solar gain and runs throughout the three-bedroom cottage. A fireplace positioned in the front hallway divides the bedrooms from the living area, and a custom sofa bench set into the wall across from it creates a traditional fireplace inglenook.