High-Tech Heroes Are Totally Radical


After lunch, Radical Craft rolled out its finest nerdery for a high-tech showcase.

Danny Hillis of Applied Minds showed us a computer made of Tinker Toys, flight maps tracking planes that trickled out of airports like a glittering ant farm, and a touch screen map that became 3D with a touch of the screen. Best use of conference theme so far: “Craft is the moment when an idea is pushed by imagination and pulled by reality.”

Wolf Prix, of the legendary Coop Himmelb(l)au opened his presentation with this thought: “Radical craft in architecture isn’t about radical tools, it’s about radical thinking.” But he infused his radical tools anyway, with a stunning animated rendering of a to-be-built BMW dealership.

Nik Haafermas, graphic design chair at Art Center, revealed an installation scheduled at the school’s Wind Tunnel campus in conjunction with the city of Pasadena. 80-foot solar-powered lights will operate with what’s essentially synthesized photosynthesis: the panels collect light, store it and emit a soft glow at night. A rendering of the PowerPLANTs are pictured above.

Charles Elachi of JPL, whose presentation two years ago inspired the Radical Craft theme, made a special appearance to update the Rovers’ performance on Mars. He unveiled the full-scale models of the next round of Rovers (when did those get in here?), a polar lander for 2007 and a “roving chemist” in 2009.