Morpholio’s New In-App Feature for Trace, Bridges Traditional Hand Drawing with Smart Technology – Publication 03.23.21

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With advanced versions of digital magic developing every day, architects and designers now are able to connect more fluidly with the global design community. In this paperless, new era we live in, we welcome a recently launched feature in Morpholio’s Trace app, the Smart Hatch. 

Morpholio has four apps built-in. The popular Trace app with the newest feature plugs the traditional architect profession into today’s digital world with smart hatching, “trace paper” capabilities, and the precision of AutoCAD intelligence. 

With the use of an Apple Pencil, the Smart Hatch feature allows enhanced adjustments in the tolerance, shading, and scaling of a pattern, as well as saving into a new hatch library, as compared to AutoCAD. Users can use the Smart Fill feature to hatch in concrete and reinforced steel details, roof shingles and wall panels in elevations, and wood planking in floor plans.

Programming analysis with hatch diagrams is available as well. The ability to calculate the pricing and surface area of materials used is also available for material budgets. Custom designed hatches will be available to users in the near future.

“Good hatch work not only brings both textural beauty and depth to a drawing, it conveys technical insight about detail and materiality” says Joey Swerdlin, Morpholio Community Director.  

Morpholio has three other apps that are constantly morphing with new features. The Morpholio Board app for interior designers has live viewing of furniture placement and the ability to generate spec spreadsheets. 

The Morpholio Journal app has the feature of a modern, smart Sketchbook. This app has partnered with Moleskin notebooks and will have a very exciting, upcoming feature of printing your journal as a Moleskin notebook!

The Morpholio Design Portfolio digitally syncs your work on online platforms and devices. Printing features and pinup critiques can be explored in collaboration with your portfolio and others in a public or private forum.

House of Wisdom, by Foster + Partners, opens in Sharjah, UAE – Publication 03.19.21

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All photos courtesy of Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners recently cut the ribbon for the House of Wisdom in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The project is a modern library concept designed as a transparent, rectangular volume with a floating, cantilevered roof. A new cultural district has been developed in this emirate of Sharjah. 

Sharjah is the third-largest city in the UAE. This is the only emirate that is blessed to be geographically positioned near the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and several port towns. 

In 2019, UNESCO voted the emirate of Sharjah as the World Book Capital.

The tallest focal point of the House of Wisdom is on the north side. It is a modern, vertical, spiraling magnificence of a Scroll sculpture. Ancient Arabic scrolls are protected by rolled steel plates due to the extreme hot climate and sandstorms. The scrolls are positioned centrally in front of the House, inside a formal circle of landscaping, as a “knowledge garden”.

On the west side, a central courtyard welcomes one into the main entrance of the House of Wisdom. A row of glass doors open with a double-height reception and a cohesive blending of public and semi-private spaces. There is an espresso cafe and lounge areas for reading near the abundance of natural daylight seeping through. 

The cantilevered roof projects out and its overhangs offer shading over the glass facade. Movable screens have different densities depending on the position of the sun. The roof is supported by four cores, the two at the front act as sculptural staircases, while the other two function as services. 

The mezzanine level offers public and private spaces including outdoor gardens, exhibitions, a praying room, a women-only room, and quiet “pod” spaces. 

There are a total of fifteen lobbies in the building. Another innovative feature is there are fabrication labs with 3D printers that print and bind books in minutes.

When outside on the south side, a “playground” landscape sets the tone with a water feature for children to thrive within an oasis of native birds, fig trees, palm trees, and much more. The flatness of the roof ties together the sections of landscaping with the flat desert surroundings.

The House of Wisdom’s library concept teaches architects a universal lesson in how we can establish a middle ground for different generations of students and scholars. Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners describes the project as, “a community hub for learning, underpinned by innovation and technology.”

Hidden Rooms From 16th Century England to a Current Day NYC Apartment – Publication 03.17.21

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The mystery of something hidden always brings curiosity to us. In the movies, we can surely reminisce about hidden rooms and passageways behind bookshelf walls or behind a classic Impressionist masterpiece. During the 16th century in England, Roman Catholic priests were feared of persecution due to state restrictions. “Priest holes” were built in wealthy homes for hiding and allowed a passageway to exit, if needed. Several still exist today, behind bathrooms and inside chimneys, as mysterious tourist attractions. 

Harvington Hall

Another mysterious destination on travelers’ bucket lists, is Chicago’s speakeasies of the 1920s Prohibition era. Hidden taverns and basement bars were the scene for gangsters and bootleggers gracing with flair and dancing with illegal alcohol. 

Chicago Prohibition Bust 1931. Photograph by Daniel Hagerman

As we shift from 16th century England to 1920s Chicago, next, we look into the mysterious history of New York City’s buildings. Buildings built prior to World War II have a longer timespan and a stronger foundation than modern, post-war towers. However, this does not imply that stronger materials may be fully compliant with city codes and accessibility regulations. 

As a frequent diner of eclectic restaurants in the city, I remember descending a very dark staircase with uneven tread and risers and no handrail, leading towards the rest rooms. These uneven, stone slabs were built during pre-war, then grandfathered with an overlap of code-compliant, prefabricated, structurally sound materials. Turns out this building was built as split-level from two extremely different time periods! 

Stairs in my friends pre war building in NY. Photo Credit by BobsBigInsight

Another New York story. A young female New York City renter, Samantha Hartsoe, noticed a cold draft of air seeping behind her bathroom mirror. As curious she was, she grabbed her safety gear and crawled into the unknown space, while filming every step along the way. 

This story captured millions of inquisitive viewers as a news headline, as a 4-part video on TikTok, and as a Zoom guest appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show. Samantha discovered that a vacant apartment was sharing the same flooring, the same walls, and the same structural framing of her bathroom mirror. 

Ellen DeGeneres Meets Woman Who Found A Secret Room Behind Her Mirror. Photo by Samantha Hartsoe
Screenshots from Samantha Hartsoe's TikTok video showing her discovery

Screenshots from Samantha Hartsoe’s TikTok video showing her discovery

As an overnight internet sensation, her story as a foundation base is building as a more developing story. Whether her landlord takes action or social media will rise concerns on safety factors of living in historical buildings, this will be something for history books. Perhaps, this could be new brainstorming for architects on housing inspections of different time period styles. 

Solving mystery can be a good learning lesson, rather than having “history repeat itself”.

The Drafting Table of Nat’s Noshes


Draw, draw, and draw until precise as my mentors from art and architecture school shared with us as a daily reminder post-it. 

The drafting table of Nat’s Noshes is set up with a Moleskin-ruled notebook and a Sharpie pen. Brainstorming develops for food pyramid-compliant and well-cup-measured clean foods.

These culinary pieces of art are all homemade and not pre-packaged. Berries used in these stories came fresh from the orchard farm and pomegranates came from the produce aisle, rather than pre-packaged. 

Since mid April, I have been channeling my passion for art and design into creative baking and cooking, via colors, textures, scents, visuality, plating, and presentation.

I designed a website from the start and have been documenting short stories inspired from childhood memories, adventures during the pandemic, and positive experiences into creative, noshable goods. This website has morphed from zero to over 3.5K views in just over three months, along with a high presence in social media. 

Please help yourself in viewing samples of creative culinary art for healthy inspiration, social distancing dinner party ideas, or as creative ways to reset and enjoy summer, as normal as possible. 

*Basically “clean” foods under 5 ingredients.

Nat’s Noshes

2nd Ward Alderman’s Weekly E-Newsletter Brief Submittal

Brief submittal to the 2nd Ward Alderman’s weekly e-newsletter Chicago Strong E-Newsletter: Fifth Edition. *Scroll to the bottom to Smiles and Laughs: A 35th Anniversary Surprise for Two CPD Officers.

A 35th Anniversary Surprise for Two CPD Officers

“I watched a recent episode on Celebrity IOU, a new HGTV show with Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott, starring the fabulous Melissa McCarthy.

Melissa surprised her aunt and uncle, who were Chicago police officers for more than 30 years, with a complete home redo for their 35th anniversary.

Melissa said, ‘They’ve given so much to Chicago’ that she and her cousin wanted to give back something to them. Melissa’s uncle said, ‘After living in the line of duty with his wife for so long, he still wants to dance with her after 35 years.’ Beautiful moment to watch in our hometown!”

Nathalie, River North