Streetside Artscape explores winter darkness

This winter, a new art installation in the storefront windows of downtown Tacoma’s famed Woolworth building is lighting up the corner of 11th Street and Broadway.

Their piece, which debuted at First Night Tacoma-Pierce County on New Year’s Eve, is the latest installment of Spaceworks Tacoma’s Artscapes initiative. It’s called 2139:47 — signifying the duration of winter in hours and minutes.

Two Woolworth Building window bays house a suspended, stacked array of sheer fabric-wrapped wood frames and a colored nylon fabric-wrapped acrylic “lens” box. Each window bay is lit by a 35,000 lumen LED HXB High Bay light fixture provided by Cree lighting.

The window art is the brainchild of Scott Blakemore and Jeff McCord, colleagues at Seattle’s ZGF Architects by day and artists in their spare time. After meeting in graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture, the two formed a Seattle-based partnership called Split Shot Collaborative.

“Winter weighs heavy on the collective consciousness of the Pacific Northwest,” their artist statement reads. “Its approach brings a leaden darkness — sudden, insistent, brutish. 2139:47 — or the duration of Winter in hours:minutes — represents an embrace of the artificial, an anemic attempt to replace what is lost for a season, via a communion of the mundane: frames, fabric, industrial lighting.”

Additional support for the installation was provided by ZGF Architects and Lighting Design Lab.

The exhibit runs through March 15, 2018.

An initiative of Spaceworks, Artscapes installations can be found in storefront windows, outdoor spaces and indoor video galleries in the city of Tacoma.

Spaceworks Tacoma, founded in 2010, is a joint initiative of the city of Tacoma and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber designed to activate empty storefront and vacant spaces. SpaceWorks makes Tacoma culturally vibrant and economically strong through training and support for artists and creative entrepreneurs.

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100 more bikes for 100 more children

Instead of holding a traditional holiday party, the team at CollinsWoerman created their own Santa’s Workshop. Over 60 employees spent the day assembling 100 bicycles of all sizes for 100 kids. 

The event benefited the Forgotten Children’s Fund, an organization that works to give deserving children and their families a truly Merry Christmas. 

“This time of year is especially busy with the demands of work, family, and everything associated with the holidays, but it’s also a time when the spotlight is brightest on the unmet needs within our community,” said Mark Woerman, principal at CollinsWoerman.

As part of the 100 Bikes for 100 Kids Program, the bicycles were delivered to the Forgotten Children’s Fund’s “North Pole” where volunteers distributed them to families in need on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

This year’s bicycle giveaway marks the fifth year of CollinsWoerman’s partnership with The Forgotten Children’s Fund.

“As a firm, we’re fortunate to be able to put a smile on the faces of 100 kids who would otherwise be left without this holiday season, and to create a memory that may inspire them to do the same for someone else at another time in their lives,” emphasized Woerman.

What a fun way to give back and what a great party! Nice work CollinsWoerman

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Shop smart, spend safe this season

Here are some tips for cyber shopping, online returns, and other financial advice for the year’s end.

Some cyber shopping tips for a safe holiday season
These days I find I’m as apt to reach for my phone as I am for my credit card when I buy something, whether I’m using my “mobile wallet” or a person-to-person (P2P) payment.

And of course, you probably spend as much time shopping online as I do. That’s why as we dive into the shopping season, it’s a smart time to double-click on some ways to stay safe when we’re making digital transactions.

Here are some best practices that will help keep your money safe and your holiday cheer intact. (read more)

Suspicious charge? Act fast if you think any accounts may be at risk
Maybe you saw a suspicious charge on your bank statement. Or your debit card is missing from your wallet. If you believe your account is at risk, you need to act fast. Your money could be in jeopardy.

According to a 2015 American Bankers Association survey, banks lost nearly $2 billion to deposit account fraud the year before. The recent Equifax data breach highlights how consumer information is vulnerable and how that could put your financial accounts in danger.

When faced with a compromised account, consumers can protect themselves by acting quickly in the short term and diligently in the long term. (read more)

What’s the best way to track my spending?
Q: It seems like all my income disappears by the end of the month, and I want to know where it’s going. What’s the best way to keep track of my spending?

A: You’ve already come to an important realization: Understanding your expenses will give you greater control over them.

Many people have a tough time getting to that point. Two-thirds of U.S. adults don’t keep a detailed budget that tracks income and expenses, a 2013 Gallup survey found. That’s often because they’re afraid of what they’ll find, says Maggie Baker, a psychologist in the Philadelphia area and author of “Crazy About Money.” But a deep dive into your cash flow can be the first step toward finally feeling like you’re on course financially.

“There’s a certain empowerment that comes with facing the truth,” Baker says.

There’s no best way to track where your money goes; what’s most important is following through. Understand your preferences, explore the available tracking tools and choose the best fit. Once you have results, start making small changes. Here’s how to begin. (read more)

Why our brains make stupid money choices

  • Our money illusions can work against us, treating some forms of money as less real than others, and that can really cost you.  

Money is money, whether it’s cash in our hands, plastic cards at checkout counters or encrypted bits of data coursing between computers on the internet.

But our brains don’t view all money as equal, thanks to what behavioral economists call “cognitive biases”: 

  • We spend cash more carefully than plastic.
  • We regard tax refunds as a windfall rather than a return of what we earned.
  • We’d rather have money now than more money later. (read more)

A guide to making holiday returns easier

  •  Many retailers allow people to exchange or return goods, but the policies often must be followed to a T.

The holidays are a time for celebration and gifts, but not all presents hit the mark and returning them doesn’t feel very festive. If you find yourself unhappy with a gift, you wouldn’t be the only one.  

Nearly a quarter of the people responding to a 2015 holiday survey by shopping app Retale said they were likely to return or exchange at least one of the presents they received.

A recent holiday shopping report by personal finance website NerdWallet found that clothing was the most commonly returned gift last year, at 14 percent.  (read more) 

How to refresh your finances for the new year
Q: I want to make 2018 the year I fix up my finances for real. How can I give my money a fresh start?

A: I applaud your commitment to financial fitness. This is one of the most meaningful things you can do for yourself in 2018 and beyond.

While your resolve is strongest, set aside cash for emergencies in a traditional savings account. Next, if you’re not saving for retirement, start now. 

Getting your emergency and retirement accounts started is huge, and those might be the only things you focus on this year. But once they’re set, here are ways to bring your money makeover to the next level.  (read more)

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This eye contains 1.2 million books!

Dutch firm MVRDV has built a spectacular public library that looks like a huge eye, as part of a new cultural district in Tianjin, China.

Located in the Binhai Cultural District, Tianjin Binhai Library is one of a cluster of five buildings as part of an ongoing effort to make Tianjin more of a cultural hub. Along with many media rooms, it houses 1.2 million books and also connects visitors to a nearby park.

The library was designed and built in a record-breaking time of only three years due to a tight schedule imposed by the local municipality. 

The five levels of the building contain an extensive program of educational facilities. The subterranean level has service spaces, book storage, and a large archive. The ground floor has easy to access reading areas for children and the elderly, the main entrance and access to the cultural complex, the auditorium and terraced access to the floors above. The first and second floors consist primarily of reading rooms, books, and lounge areas. And the top two floors include meeting rooms, offices, computer rooms, and audio rooms.

The curving lines of the shelves provide areas where visitors can sit and read, and observe others doing the same. They also continue out across the glass facade, forming louvers that deflect the glare of the sun.

Tianjin Binhai Public Library sits alongside building a new exhibition center by GMP, as well as other cultural buildings by Bernard Tschumi Architects, Bing Thom Architects and HH Design. All five are connected by a public corridor sheltered beneath a glass canopy.

Based in Rotterdam, MVRDV is led by Maas along with architects Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries.

Design Team:
Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries with Wenchian Shi, María López Calleja, Kyosuk Lee, Sen Yang, Marta Pozo, Chi Li, Ray Zhu, Ángel Sánchez Navarro, Daehee Suk, Guang Ruey Tan, Xichen Sun, Michael Zhang, Mariya Gyaurova, Jaime Dominguez Bálgoma, Antonio Luca Coco, Costanza Cuccato, Matteo Artico, and Tomaso Maschietti

Concept Design:
Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries with Renske van der Stoep, Martine Vledder, Kyosuk Lee, Gerard Heerink, Chi Li, Francisco Pomares, Nicolas Lee, Claudia Bode, Sharon Sin, Jaap Baselmans, Herman Gaarman, Hui Hsin Liao, Antonio Luca Coco, Costanza Cuccato, Matteo Artico and Tomaso Maschietti.

Co-Architect: Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI), Tianjin, China

All images Ossip van Duivenbode via MVRDV.

Related articles: 
Archinect / dezeen / My Modern Net 



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Buy it new, or used?

Here’s something you may have missed from the Money page.  

Experienced shoppers weigh the pros and cons of thrift-store finds.

Bedbugs. Weird smells. The possibility of imminent breakdowns. People have all sorts of excuses for not buying used stuff.

Those who deliberately buy used items, though, say such fears are not just overblown — they’re also expensive.

“You save money. You make a decision that you feel good about. There’s no reason to stop,” says Wolk-Stanley, who blogs as The Non-Consumer Advocate.

Why do it?

People who buy used help keep stuff out of landfills, reduce their environmental impact, and maybe best of all, save money.

New can mean expensive:

“You save money. You make a decision that you feel good about. There’s no reason to stop,” says Katy Wolk-Stanley, who blogs as The Non-Consumer Advocate.

The decision to buy new can be costly. Take cars, for example. The average transaction price for a new vehicle exceeds $34,000, and it will lose as much as 22 percent of its value when driven off the dealership lot, according to car research site 

Household goods prices often are inflated as well. Furniture, appliances, and electronics tend to have big markups, and there’s an $8 billion rent-to-own industry devoted to making them even more expensive. The weekly or monthly payments often add up to twice or more what the item would cost if purchased outright.

When to buy new:

Some things are better if purchased new. Safety experts recommend avoiding used bicycle helmets and car seats, for example, in case they were damaged in previous accidents.

People leery of buying used appliances and furniture can consider refurbished versions, floor models or the “scratch and dent” section of home improvement stores, where imperfect merchandise can be bought at steep discounts.

What to avoid:

Some people who buy most things used avoid mattresses and upholstered furniture for fear of bedbugs. Wolk-Stanley hasn’t found any yet. The blogger washes clothes and linens before using them. Anything upholstered gets thoroughly inspected before it enters her home.

Hunting down good used items can take more time than snapping up something new, but Wolk-Stanley believes she ultimately saves time as well as money.

“I’m looking for a higher-quality item that would not necessarily have been in my budget originally,” Wolk-Stanley says. “That item will last longer and not need to be replaced, and therefore, I’m buying things once.”

Where to go:

Find stuff online on Craigslist, Buy Nothing, and The Freecycle Network which are groups that connect people who have stuff to give away with those who want it.  Or go in person to garage sales and thrift stores like the Goodwill or the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity ReStores which sell donated paint, flooring, appliances, furniture, and building materials.

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