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Sunday, November 03, 2013

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"Book Briefs" are an ongoing series of posts with two- or three-sentence first-hand descriptions of some of the numerous books that make their way into my library. These briefs are not full-blown reviews, but they are a way to share more books worthy of attention than can find their way into reviews on my carranza's clinical periodontology 11th edition free pages.


1: The Italian Townscape by Ivor De Wolfe | Artifice Books on Architecture | 2013 | Amazon
As somebody that spent a semester in Italy during architecture school, I can't get enough of books with photos of the country's distinctive and hard-to-dislike cities and towns, especially in and around Tuscany, where most of my semester was spent. So it's great to have this 1963 book by Hubert de Cronin Hastings, under the pseudonym Ivor de Wolfe (with photos by Ivy de Wolfe, in actuality Hastings's wife Hazel), which was reprinted by Artifice on its 50th anniversary. Nevertheless, Hubert's views of Italy are highly nuanced and personal, hardly resembling coffee table books with postcard photos. He wanted us to learn from the country's appealing urban conurbations as Modernism was transforming cities around the world, and to a certain degree it works through the photos and the sometimes quirky text (he starts the book by talking about bacon).

2: Sigurd Lewerentz edited by Nicola Flora, Paolo Giardiello and Gennaro Postiglione | Phaidon | 2013 | Amazon
Woodland Cemetery (aka Skogskyrkogården) in Stockholm is the most well-known project by Sweden's Sigurd Lewerentz (carried out with Gunnar Asplund starting in 1915), but a quick glance at the 150+ projects listed in the table of contents to this sizable monograph indicates this was one of many cemeteries or crematoriums that he designed. To somebody in the 21st century this may seem like typecasting or specialization, but as Colin St. John Wilson describes it in his introductory essay to this book originally published in 2002 by Electa (reprinted by Pall Mall and Phaidon this year): "Lewerentz did not flinch at the tragic sense...he fused the simple elements of construction into metaphors of brooding mystery." That mystery comes across in the many photos included in this book, but it is the architect's drawings that really come to the fore, making this a historical appreciation rather than a visual (eye candy) one. Nevertheless, this book is a must-have for anybody with an interest in an architect who deserves much more appreciation and attention.

3: New City: Contemporary Architecture in the City of London by Alec Forshaw | Merrell Publishers | 2013 | Amazon
While thinking of London may have triggered images of St. Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and other stone edifices, in the 21st century the city is being transformed by tall buildings of glass and steel (with some stone thrown here and there), many of them landmarks like their masonry predecessors. This book surveys the changes to the City of London (not to be confused with Greater London) through twelve geographical chapters, moving from "around St. Paul's" to "the Riverside." Each chapter maps the buildings (335 in the whole book) like a guidebook, but Forshaw opts for continuous text that meanders through each area like a walking tour, rather than breaking out each building into a separate entry. Actually many buildings would not merit inclusion if the book were a guide, even as each partakes in the city's 21st-century transformation. (See also reduce size of mac os x, also published by Merrell.)


4: Aircraft Carrier: American Ideas and Israeli Architectures after 1973 edited by Erez Ella, Milana Gitzin-Adiram, Dan Handel | Hatje Cantz | 2012 | Amazon
Last year's Venice Architecture Biennale was the first that I attended (writing about it for World-Architects). While I couldn't help from buying the miniature version of the "Common Ground" catalog (the big one was too big and costly to justify), in the year since I've gained three books produced from different exhibitions and pavilions at the Biennale. In addition to The Images of Architects and Wunderkammer (both part of the Arsenale exhibition) there is this book from the Israeli pavilion. While the other two books focus on the visual and tactile, respectively, as a source of inspiration for architects, aircraftcarrier is an overtly political affair, examining how global capitalism affected Israeli architecture. While the tongue-in-cheek tchotchkes (such as the peace-treaty bobble heads) don't have a strong a presence here as in the exhibition, the book is elegantly designed, making it a beautiful memento of a fairly serious show.

5: Kenzo Tange: Architecture for the World edited by Seng Kuan and Yukio Lippit | Lars Müller Publishers | 2012 | Amazon
In 2009 Harvard GSD presented a comprehensive exhibition on Kenzo Tange, Utopia Across Scales: Highlights from the Kenzo Tange Archive, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the eponymous visiting professorship and included a conference. The latter helped to generate the essays in this handsome volume (with embossed cover and smooth, semi-gloss paper) that arrived when much scholarship on Tange was being produced, such as Project Japan and other books focused on his Metabolism influence. Photo/drawing portfolios are fitted between the essays, highlighting a few of Tange's most important buildings.

6: In Search of the Public: Notes on the Contemporary American City by Mario Gandelsonas, Rafi Segal, Els Verbakel  | Island Press | 2013 | Amazon
This book also arose from an academic conference, but in this case it took more than five years to translate In Search of the Public from a two-day conference at Princeton University in October 2005 into a publication. These seven years saw a shift from the Bush to Obama administrations, but more dramatically the Arab Spring and Occupy movements challenged notions of the "public" through their actions a couple years ago. The conference proceedings, as documented in this slim volume, precede these important events, but the texts still find relevance as questions of public space continue unabated.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

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Here are some photos of the Villa Méditerranée in Marseille, France, by Stefano Boeri Architetti, photographed by Burçin YILDIRIM.

Villa Méditerranée ( CEREM) /  Stefano Boeri

Villa Méditerranée (CEREM) /  Stefano Boeri

Villa Méditerranée (CEREM) /  Stefano Boeri

Villa Méditerranée (CEREM) /  Stefano Boeri

Villa Méditerranée (CEREM) /  Stefano Boeri

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:
:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool, and/or
:: Tag your photos archidose

Thursday, October 31, 2013

welcome to your brain free

On Wednesday, November 13, the Cooper Union is screening Diana Agrest's The Making of an Avant-Garde: the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies 1967-1984. If you're like me the IAUS brings to mind the journal Oppositions and Peter Eisenman. He can be found in the below photo as #4, but who are the rest? Who are these "makers of an avant-garde"? Feel free to comment with your guesses.

A couple hints: The graphic below (the bottom half of the film announcement from above, which I added the numbers to) and an Architect's Newspaper piece on an IAUS book, with a captioned photo of a ca. 1974 dinner.

Film screening details:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
7pm Film Screening
Panel Discussion and Open Reception to follow
The Great Hall: 7 East 7th Street, lower level
Free and open to the public

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At lunch yesterday I sauntered over to the East River Esplanade, and noticing one of SHoP's little buildings nearing completion (and without my ever-trusty but now broken camera), I took a few shots of it with my dumbphone. The glass pavilion sits underneath FDR Drive and is steps away from SHoP's Pier 15, which opened late 2011 and can be seen reflected in the glass walls of the below photo. 

[North elevation. All dumbphone photos by John Hill.]

According to the NYC Department of City Planning: "These pavilions will serve community and commercial uses with their imaginative architectural expressions that will complement the public open space as well as return the vitality of the city to the water’s edge."

[Northeast corner of the pavilion]

The covered areas on two sides of the pavilion (facing north and east) indicate that the building could be used as a cafe or something that requires waiting in line. New York Harbor Parks indicates "recreational/sports facilities with equipment available for rental." We'll have to wait for a little while to see what moves in.

[North elevation, looking west]

Unlike the abundance of wood at Pier 15, this pavilion limits that material to the L-shaped deck that is propped just a few inches above the surrounding pavement. In addition to the glass, the building is predominantly galvanized metal (aluminum would be my guess), which is used for the overhangs and much of the mainly solid south and west elevations.

[West elevation and north-facing deck]

A nice detail happens at the end of each deck, where the galvanized panels are perforated to allow and views to penetrate. When seeing the pavilion from under the FDR Drive (below photo), these openings give a greater view of the esplanade and shoreline, enticing people to cross the still dark and dingy thoroughfare. When people congregate on these decks, the draw should be even more enticing.

[West elevation]

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

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Here are some photos of the University of Aveiro Water Tank in Aveiro, Portugal, by Alvaro Siza, photographed by José Carlos Melo Dias.

Campus da Universidade de Aveiro, depósito de água. Álvaro Siza

Campus da Universidade de Aveiro, depósito de água. Álvaro Siza

Campus da Universidade de Aveiro, depósito de água. Álvaro Siza

Campus da Universidade de Aveiro, depósito de água. Álvaro Siza

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:
:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool, and/or
:: Tag your photos archidose

Monday, October 28, 2013

i know you are lying mark mcclish

A Weekly Dose of Architecture Updates:

This week's dose features the Clifftop House in Maui, Hawaii, by Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti:
this week's dose

The featured past dose is the Centro das Artes | Casa das Mudas in Calheta, Madeira by Paulo David:

This week's book review is Discovering Architecture: How the World's Great Buildings Were Designed and Built by Philip Jodidio (L):
this week's book review this week's book review
(R): The featured past book review is Great Buildings of the World by Time Inc.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

American-Architects Building of the Week:

Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas, by WORK Architecture Company:
this week's Building of the Week

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The SAGE Handbook of Architectural Theory is a 776-page tome that "documents and builds upon some of the most innovative developments in architectural theory over the last two decades." To mark the release of the book, Parsons SCE is hosting a panel discussion (free, no RSVP required) this evening; details are below.

Architectural Theory in an Expanded Field

Monday, October 28, 2013 at 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Wollman Hall (B500), Eugene Lang College
65 West 11th Street, New York, NY

Join Parsons SCE for a panel discussion with the general editors and US-based contributors of the Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory, celebrating the launch of the paperback edition convened by Brian McGrath, Dean of the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons and moderated by Joanna Merwood, associate professor of Architectural History at Parsons.

The panel discussion will explore the handbook’s agenda and consider its significance for architectural research, education and practice. A questions and answer session will follow remarks from the panelists.

General Editors:
  • C. Greig Crysler, Associate Professor of Architecture; Arcus Chair, College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley
  • Hilde Heynen, Professor of Architecture, University of Leuven
  • Stephen Cairns, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, University of Edinburgh; Future Cities Lab Coordinator, ETH Singapore

  • Stefan Al, Associate Professor of Urban Design, University of Pennsylvania
  • M. Christine Boyer, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, Princeton University
  • Brian McGrath, Dean, School of Constructed Environments, Parsons The New School for Design
  • Deborah Natsios,
  • Vyjayanthi Rao, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, The New School
  • David Solomon, Assistant Professor, Architectural Studies, Ithaca College
  • Gwendolyn Wright, Professor of Architecture, Columbia University

The Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory documents and builds upon the most innovative developments in architectural theory over the last two decades.

With over 40 chapters of original material from a roster of contributors from around the world, the handbook connects together issues, institutions, authors and readers in ways that mark a significant departure from other collections of its kind. Eight major sections explore issues in architectural theory today, from new formations of power, difference and embodiment, and questions around science and technology, to the changing conditions in cities and metropolitan territories in the global present.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

business management and administration notes

Back in April the Nobel Foundation selected twelve architects to vie for the design of the Nobel Center in Stockholm. Eleven of the firms (minus Herzog & de Meuron) submitted designs at the end of September, and each of them can be viewed on the Nobel Center website. Oh, and each entry is anonymous. According to the website: "The jury will not comment on any proposal until 2-5 of them in November 2013 have been selected to proceed to the competitions [sic] second stage. The names of the architects behind each submission will at that point be revealed." Below are the proposals, followed by the list of the architects at bottom. So which architect goes with which proposal?

Design Proposals (in alphabetical order):

A. Archipelago:

B. Beyond 1210:

C. Butterfly:

D. Landing Seagulls:

E. Nobelhuset:

F. Nobel Sphere:

G. P(a)lace to Enjoy, A:


I. Room and a Half, A:

J. Space Between, The:

K. "We believe in...":

Participating Architects (in alphabetical order):
  1. 3XN
  2. BIG
  3. David Chipperfield Architects
  4. Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor
  5. Lacaton and Vassal Architectes
  6. Lundgaard and Tranberg Arkitekter
  7. Marcel Meili, Markus Peter Architekten
  8. OMA
  9. SANAA
  10. Snøhetta
  11. Wingårdhs Arkitekter
    If you care to guess, leave a comment below matching the proposals (letters) and architects (numbers), e.g. A1, B2, etc.

    (Thanks to Fred B. for the idea!)

    Friday, October 25, 2013

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    Here are some of my photos of the PATH - West Concourse (2013) in New York City by Santiago Calatrava. The walkway, which opened on Tuesday, connects the PATH station (still under construction) with the recently completed Brookfield Place at Battery Park City; photos of the latter to follow. For orientation purposes, the marble wall lines the south side of the walkway so, for example, the top photo is looking to the west, toward Brookfield Place.

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:
    :: Join and add photos to the archidose pool, and/or
    :: Tag your photos archidose

    Thursday, October 24, 2013

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    This week architects have been busy reading and commenting on Christine Outram's essay at Medium, "What Starbucks Gets that Architects Don't: Or why I left the architecture profession." On my first read a couple days ago I got the message (architects need to listen to the people who occupy their buildings) and agreed generally that buildings and spaces could be designed better, although I detested the way it was written and didn't find that round tables at Starbucks to be a strong argument for architects talking to and listening to people.

    To make just one comment on her article in this blog post, it's worth focusing on what I think is the gist of her argument:
    "You [architects] don’t understand people. I correct myself. You don’t listen to people."
    These sentences come right at the beginning of her piece, setting up her argument about Starbucks ("Form follows feeling") and using the Internet to poll people about things like where a new shop should really be located (something usually outside an architect's scope). But what if her statements are incorrect? I correct myself. What if there is a more accurate criticism about architects?:
    You [architects] are people, but you don't listen to yourselves, to what's inside.
    This statement may sound a bit goody-goody or mushy at first, but my point is that by focusing on users as a distinct group of people—them, not us—former-architect Outram is perpetuating the gulf between the two. Actually, I'd argue that architects are also Starbucks customers (and homeowners, and students, and the other people that use buildings), and given their education and practical experience they are in a unique position to gauge how design can make one's cup of coffee in a chain cafe a better experience, to use her example.

    Is it necessary to poll hundreds of coffee drinkers to determine that round tables "protect self-esteem for those...flying solo"? Or could an architect have come to the same determination by believing their impression that round tables work better in some environments than square tables, be it by observing patrons at a local cafe or in a public park, or by choosing a round table over a square one themselves? Any architect will admit that all of their observations and experiences influence how they think about architecture, so I'm wont to believe the latter.

    So then why don't architects listen to what's inside? The obvious conclusion would be to blame clients—after all, they are the entities that sit in that supposed gulf between architects and users. Yet the case of Starbucks shows (if anything) that clients are open to design solutions when they lead to benefits both for them and whom they serve; and to make a fairly safe assumption, a developer should be open to design solutions that make residents happier so they can ask for higher rents or selling prices.

    But traditionally the client's bottom line has driven decision-making, therefore conditioning architects to prioritize that over human needs. Therefore I'd wager that architects don't listen to what's inside because they're afraid of ignoring what they see as the client's wishes or of even losing the job. Yet ultimately the architect exists to balance human needs (the users, as filtered through the architect's own experiences and expertise) with those of the client, as well as with the environment and other considerations that are greater than both.

    So I believe that architects do listen to people, internalizing conversations and experiences so as to make better decisions about design. Often they don't follow through on those feelings and therein lies some of what Outram is getting at. I don't believe architects need to carry out online polls or data mine (what people in advertising, Outram's current gig, do) to create buildings and spaces that are in line with how people want to feel. Architects can interpret such data if it exists, but not at the expense of understanding themselves and the shared human condition.