Entries Tagged 'Architecture' ↓

Wish You Were Here.



The disappearing landscape is an issue in all communities, and the question of how to preserve the visual character of towns, cities and rural areas is always pressing.

This is even the case in Havana, Cuba’s capital and largest city, where political and economic isolation have compelled Cubans to retain the use of structures longer than many urban centers might.

Yet Havana is, indeed, changing. It’s a turn that Cathryn Griffith, in her new book, Havana Revisited: An Architectural Heritage, covers through an unusual technique of matching early 20th century postacards, bought primarily through the internet, to modern-day views, like these of Cuba’s famed Centro Gallago, above. Through this unusual technique, Griffith not only documents the historical form of the island’s architectural heritage, but creates a template for how communities may, perhaps, preserve that tradition in any place.

Cathryn Griffith is a guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 16, at 2 pm ET.

screen31But first we’ll speak with Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker. Pennoyer is the principal partner of Peter Pennoyer Architects and chairman of the Institute for Classical Architecture and Classical America. Walker holds a degree in historic preservation from Columbia University, and has co-authored three books with Pennoyer. Their newest, The Architecture of Grosvenor Atterbury, tells the story the late 19th / early 20th century architect whose classical forms, resistant to modernist trends developing in Europe and other places, led to some of the most beautiful structures of his era. Many are well-preserved, even now, and commissions like these stone barns for the Rockefeller family, right, or his design of New York City’s Forest Hills Gardens, continue to delight and inspire.

You can hear Peter Pennoyer’s, Anne Walker’s, and Cathryn Griffith’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm ET. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Don’t Stand So Close To Me.


A site about “Architectural Conjecture, Urban Speculation, [and] Landscape Futures” certainly seems to promise heady distraction, and Geoff Manaugh’s BLDGBLOG delivers by the Liebherr T 282B-full.

Up since July 2004, BLDGBLOG totes a range of diversions almost as wide as Manaugh’s obviously fertile mind: Ice floes (and interplanetary atmospherics); automobile test tracks; odd, old synthesizers; hell; and designing the long-term storage of nuclear waste. Every post delights with inquisitive, nimble writing and typically dreamy images, and his The BLDGBLOG Book—which compiles dozens of his best pieces—makes the whole enterprise fit on your shelf.

Now, in a new exhibit at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City, Manaugh and co-curator Nicola Twilley (Edible Geography) turn their focus on another underaddressed, little-grapsed element of the human landscape. As states the page for Landscapes of Quarantine, which opens March 10th,

At its most basic, quarantine is a strategy of separation and containment—the creation of a hygienic boundary between two or more things, for the purpose of protecting one from exposure to the other. It is a spatial response to suspicion, threat, and uncertainty. From Chernobyl’s Zone of Exclusion and the artificial quarantine islands of the New York archipelago to camp beds set up to house HIV-positive Haitian refugees detained at Guantánamo and the modified Airstream trailer from within which Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins once waved at President Nixon [above], the landscapes of quarantine are various, mutable, and often unexpected.

Geoff Manaugh is a contributing editor at Wired UK and former senior editor of Dwell magazine. He’s also the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, March 5, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear this provocative ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Actually, Pimping Is Easy.


S0101_Fraz_pants_WI001.jpgFix your peepers on this classic photo of ’70s Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier, above, decked out in front of his classic black and silver Rolls Royce. (Best detail: The still-shinin’ twin towers of the World Trade Center, beaming peacefully in the background.)

Frazier was a true fashion plate, right, and the NBA’s go-to guy for style during the wild, rah-rah 1970s. Keep in mind that, back then, most basketball players went little beyond whatever polyester parachutes they could find at the Big & tumblr_kv35cnwpkp1qaxk1co1_400Tall Men’s Shop. A GQ man, before the term existed, Frazier’s deep interest in the limits of looking superb utterly stood out.

Unlike today, though, Frazier kept the off-the-court electricity separate from his on-the-court work. Unlike today, where athletes’ distractions seem to always get in the way of their day jobs, somehow, his luminescent lifestyle, and his intense interest in the latest wears, never overshadowed his ability to do the task, right, that paid for all those jackets, pants, and tailoring. And, of course, that superb piece of British motorcraft.

screen2Though known today for the cheezy lines of his Just For Men commercials, right—”Emmitt: Your gray facial hair has put you in a rocking chair!”—back in the day, #10 was known for massive sideburns, his “WCF” vanity plates, atop, and always being the point guard to whom opposing teams feared getting close. As it should be. Rock on, Clyde.

[via Tumblr]

The House of the Rising Sun.


I’m endlessly fascinated by how even the most theologically moderate religious sects often confirm their beliefs through truly stark, often freaky, architecture.

screen9This structure, in Ontario, Canada, the Sharon Temple, was build by a Quaker offshoot in the 19th century. Made 60 x 60 feet square, its three levels are affixed with twelve “tabernacles,” or lanterns, on each corner. Inside, right, columns support the roofs and let in sunbeams from the highest level, feathering it with an ethereal glow, symbolic of the Quaker faith’s concept of “Inner Light.”

Though services have not been held at the site in over 120 years, it is open to visitors, and looks like just the place to spend some quiet time, getting closer to the Creator…and the light inside.

[via The Wall Street Journal]

How Art Happens: Conversations with Frank Gehry Brightly Illuminates the Master’s Creative Process.

dscn4515_1Infinity and beyond: Experience Music Project, Frank Gehry, architect
Photo by Victor Gin

nationalmedalofartsThat Toronto-born Frank Gehry is the world’s most famous living architect, many would argue, is without question. It is best demonstrated, they’d say, by the instant recognizability of his style. Anywhere one sees it passionately realized—for example, in the flamelike arcs of Seattle’s Experience Music Project, above—one knows that only a single person could be responsible for that building.

Others would urge that his having been awarded not only the Pritzker Prize—”architecture’s Nobel,” as it is often regarded—or the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal but also the U.S. Congress’s National Medal of Arts, above, puts him in a singular class. Still others would note that he and his work were examined in a film by an Academy Award-winning director: Sketches of Frank Gehry, by the late Sydney Pollack, one of his his last films and only documentary.

simpson_frank_gehry_concert_hall_41I’d say, however, there’s really only one truly objective proof of Gehry’s renown: He’s the only architect alive to be featured on The Simpsons. In a 2005 episode, right, he’s hired to design a concert hall so that Springfield’s citizens will appear more sophisticated to their neighboring Shelbyville.

Of course, that it’s ultimately closed and turned into a prison isn’t the point. It’s that Gehry’s work has so much mindshare the Simpsons‘ writers felt him suitably big enough to both feature and lampoon on a mainstream animated series. An architect.

gehry-pic_1125075iThat episode aired, however, right around the time that, in real life, Gehry, right, had begun a new project with L.A.-based cultural writer Barbara Isenberg. She’d interviewed him numerous times over a twenty-year period, and Gehry, then 75, had just approached her with, literally, a once-in-a-lifetime offer. “He asked me if I would help him organize his memories through an oral history,” the journalist, below, says on her web site.

barbara_isenbergI was immediately drawn to the idea, having enjoyed our many earlier interviews, and what began as an oral history soon evolved into the conversations I’ve edited here. Since December 2004, Gehry and I have met regularly at his Los Angeles office and Santa Monica home, over restaurant breakfasts and conference room lunches. We’ve talked about the family he was born into and the families he created, who he wanted to be and who he became, what architects do generally and what he does specifically, always coming back to the family, cultural and geographic forces that have shaped his aesthetic.

Barbara Isenberg talks about Conversations with Frank Gehry, the book she authored, based on those interviews, during my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, December 18, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear her ideas—and Gehry’s—by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Visions of a Gorgeous, Green Future.


That’s “The DoChoDo Zoological Island,” above, a fantastic rendering of an environmentally neutral structure, designed by Brussels-based JDS/Julien De Smedt Architects, from the retrospective of their work, Agenda.

[via bldgblog]

Let’s Just Say That This Would Be MTV Cribs‘s Shortest Episode.


At 102 sq. ft., Jay Shafer’s Weebee model home, above, is not even the smallest design that he offers through his Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. (That honor goes to his 65 sq. ft. XS-House.)

But it’s the Weebee that got him into author Mimi Zeiger‘s Tiny Houses. In it, Zeiger documents what appears to be a burgeoning movement, seemingly driven toward answering one poignant question: What is the absolute least amount of space that I need to take up in order to live, and by which I can meaningfully reduce my burden on the planet?

With the opposing, little-lamented “McMansion” boom now made disgustingly quaint by the housing crisis and collapse, “the desire to downsize and be more ecologically and economically prudent is a concept many are beginning to embrace,” says her book’s web page.

Tiny Houses, thus, runs whole hog with this notion, featuring modular as well as prefab homes all the way from a relatively palatial 1187 sq. ft….down to a sliver of 10, though most would agree that her Casulo “house” really stretches the limits of that word.

However, Zeiger’s point is not only to present compelling design, but to have

people challenge themselves to live “greener” lives. By using a thoughtful application of green living principles, renewable resources for construction, and clever ingenuity, these homes exemplify sustainable living at its best.

Mimi Zeiger is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 25, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear her ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

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Is Architecture Out Of Control?


In the book, From Control to Design: Parametric / Algorithmic Architecture, thinkers and practitioners look at the way today’s most aggressive and innovative firms are using computation to make the art of creating space a wholly new and radical venture.

This 26-foot-high, 69-foot-long, 17-ton aluminum sculpture, above, “The Morning Line,” by artist Matthew Ritchie, architects Aranda/Lasch and civil engineers Arup AGU, typifies the kinds of complex structures, and constructions, with which creatives are now playing. As the book reasons, the types of innovation possible are only increasing exponentially.

If the first generation of digital modeling programs allowed designers to conceive new forms and processes, a new breed of digital techniques is being discussed to control and realize these forms. How are these techniques affecting architectural practice and what potentials do they offer?

Architect Irene Hwang, one of From Control to Design‘s editors, is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, August 28, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear her ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Home Sweet Home.

863587392_631c2115b1_bHe wasn’t yet forty when he completed this residence in Harbor Springs, MI. Yet, architect Richard Meier’s 1973 Douglas House remains one of his landmark structures, and the building that, with what would become his trademark white exterior palette, declared him a force to be reckoned with.

This somber black & white image may be the best ever made of the site. Framing the home against the deep foliage that surrounds it, the near-charcoals of the natural environment form a womb-like cove for Meier’s gleaming angles. Even with a dark sky threatening, the futuristic house radiates a serenity for the ages.

Brick House.


fallingwaterflickrFallingwater, right, is the Pennsylvania summer home architect Frank Lloyd Wright built for Pittsburgh businessman Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr. It’s widely regarded as Wright’s masterpiece. Seeming to grow out of the very rocks upon which it is set, it was constructed between 1936-1939, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.

Now, the LEGO Group, working with Kansas State University-schooled architectural artist Adam Reed Tucker of Brickstructures, Inc., has recreated Wright’s landmark in a box, above, to play with, explore, learn more about Wright’s genius, and perhaps inspire your kids’ own. “Throughout it’s 50 year history the LEGO Brick has always been associated with creative  building,” says the company on the Brickstructures web site. Now, through their new LEGO Architecture product line, LEGO “takes that initiative further by inviting children of all ages to build their favorite worldly architectural landmarks and structures.”

The popular LEGO brick, admits Tucker,

is not initially thought of as a material typically used in creating art. But as an architectural artist, it lends itself perfectly to my applications, just as paint to a painter or metal to a blacksmith. I first and foremost do not view my models as literal replicas, but rather artistic interpretations that capture the essence of their sculptural form. Again, my vision is to capture the essence of the architectural & artistic form of the given structure to where my translation almost becomes its pure sculptural form.

The LEGO/Tucker Fallingwater, roughly 4 x 6 x 8 inches when built, ships in August, and will be available at various museums, specialty shops, and LEGO Brand retail stores. $100.