World-Architects Daily News


Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer Break

It's time for a summer break, so posts on this and my other two blogs will resume after Labor Day. I'll be posting to the World-Architects Daily News during break nevertheless, so check out that page via this link or the "ticker" above.

[Diller Scofidio + Renfro's TRAVELOGUES at JFK Airport]

Sunday, August 23, 2015

So You Want to Learn About: Architects in Their Own Words

The "So You Want to Learn About" series highlights books focused on a particular theme: think "socially responsible architecture" and "phenomenology," rather than broad themes like "housing" or "theory." Therefore the series aims to be a resource for finding decent reading materials on certain topics, born of a desire to further define noticeable areas of interest in the books I review. And while I haven't reviewed every title, I am familiar with each one; these are not blind recommendations.

For the longest time I was not a fan of interviews, though recently I've come around to them to the extent that I sometimes search them out. I'm not sure why I didn't like them nor why I like them now, but it might have to do with having less time to read books in their entirety combined with a desire to know the ideas and motives of particular architects. With this subtle shift of reading habits a number of books with interviews have entered my library in the last couple of years. Below is a sampling of those titles, about half of which I've reviewed previously.

Recently published:

1: Conversations with Architects: In the Age of Celebrity by Vladimir Belogolovsky | DOM Publishers | 2015 | Amazon | Review
Spurred by the 2002 competition for the World Trade Center master plan, curator Belogolovsky started interviewing architects that found themselves in the public spotlight. Only marginally about celebrity and the "starchitecture" phenomenon, this collection of interviews made over a dozen years benefits from probing questions and a strong desire to understand how the architects work and think.

2: Oxymoron and Pleonasm: Conversations on American Critical and Projective Theory of Architecture by Monika Mitášová | Actar | 2015 | Amazon
If you know the difference between critical and projective theory (or what pleonasm means) then this is the book for you. It is loaded with twelve lengthy interviews that Mitášová, a professor at Trnava University in Slovakia, conducted in 2009 and 2010 when she received a Fulbright Visiting Scholar fellowship at UCLA and Columbia University. The usual suspects are all here: Kenneth Frampton, Mark Wigley, Beatriz Colomina, Jeffrey Kipnis, Sylvia Lavin. What comes across in the interviews, as well as Mitášová's summary at the end of the book, are the mutual relationships between the interlocutors, as if the ideas on critical and projective architecture have come about through their conversations with each other, both formal and informal, recorded for prosperity and not.

3: Site Specific: Conversations with Peter Zumthor, Steven Holl, Róisín Heneghan, Bjarne Mastenbroek, Bjarke Ingels, Joshua Prince-Ramus, Patrik Schumacher, Kjetil Thorsen, Craig Dykers, and Harry Gugger by Karen Forbes | ORO Editions | 2015 | Amazon
As the title indicates, these interviews are about site, "the reading of layers of histories, different modes of use, geography, culture and society," per Forbes's preface. The cover lists the architects involved, and it's a strong list, even though Zumthor's inclusion is a bit misleading – his contribution is one short page versus the lengthier and more in-depth interviews with the other architects. Each interview is accompanied by photos of two projects by the architects, buildings that illustrates how they respond to the particulars of a site.


4: Conversations with Architects: Philip Johnson, Kevin Roche, Paul Rudolph, Bertrand Goldberg, Morris Lapidus, Louis Kahn, Charles Moore, Robert Venturi & Denise Scott Brown by John Wesley Cook & Heinrich Klotz | Praeger Publishers | 1973 | Amazon | Review
In the late 1960s and early 1970s two unlikely people – Cook, a professor at Yale Divinity School, and Klotz, an architectural historian from Germany – interviewed nine American architects (eight men and one woman) and condensed the transcripts into this book, which can be found cheaply all these decades later (mine was a couple dollars at a thrift store). Forty years after publication the book is of value to historians but also anybody interested in particular architects, especially those whose popularity ebbs and flows (Rudolph, Lapidus). The interview with Kahn was expanded into its own book (#5) and published in 2015.

5: Louis I. Kahn in Conversation: Interviews with John W. Cook and Heinrich Klotz, 1969–70 edited by Jules David Prown & Karen E. Denavit | Yale University Press | 2015 | Amazon
Kahn's interview in Cook and Klotz's collection of interviews (#4) exhibits the architect's signature enigmatic insights, but like the others in that book it was just a condensation of lengthier interviews that took place on multiple occasions. The full transcript of the five interviews made in 1969 and 1970 have been assembled forty years later into this book, complete with time markers in the sidebar next to questions and answers and chapters keyed by date and tape side. Obviously this book is for hardcover Kahn fans, and they benefit from Prown and Denavit's thorough approach, which even indicates when Kahn was drawing something for the interviewers, with attempts made to find those sketches.

6: The Oral History of Modern Architecture: Interviews With the Greatest Architects of the Twentieth Century by John Peter | Harry N. Abrams | 1994 | Amazon
Obviously one thing missing in books with interviews is the voice, the actual recording that is. Books by their nature are transcripts, and therefore they have the ability to give the words some polish (removing "ummms," for example) and condense them into more concise expressions. But this book with interviews with forty architects (some are presented in print as snippets, but some are longer transcriptions) comes with a CD for listening to select conversations. It makes it truly an "oral history" and one that any fan of modern architecture should have.

Architectural Culture and Practice:

7: 20/20: Editorial Takes on Architectural Discourse edited by Kirk Wooller | Architectural Association Publications | 2011 | Amazon | Review
This book about architectural journals features 20 editors of 20 publications answering 20 questions. Most of the editors fail to answer the questions directly, but it's still a fascinating read for those, like me, who really love architectural journals.

8: Architecture on Display: On the History of the Venice Biennale of Architecture edited by Aaron Levy & William Menking | Architectural Association Publications | 2010 | Amazon | Review
In 2012 I went to my first Venice Architecture Biennale; it was the one under director David Chipperfield, themed Common Ground. Right before heading over to Venice for the press preview I read this small-format book with interviews of past directors, covering everything from Paolo Portoghesi's famous 1980 PoMo Biennale, "The Presence of the Past," to Kazuyo Sejima's "People Meeting in Architecture" Biennale from 2010. This is the only oral history of the Biennale that I'm aware of, and it's a good one.

9: Future Practice: Conversations from the Edge of Architecture by Rory Hyde | Routledge | 2012 | Amazon | Review
On that first visit to the Biennale in 2012 I saw a cart rolling around the grounds, a mobile recording studio with a flag emblazoned with the words "Architecture on the Air." The traveling radio show  was handled by a group of people that included Rory Hyde, now curator at the V&A, and the author of this book of interviews with architects practicing in non-traditional ways. You won't find the architects of books 1-6 or 10-15, but you'll find young architects and small practices that are putting their educations to alternative uses; a valuable book for those wishing to do the same.

Capital-A architecture:

10: Building as Ornament by Michiel Van Raaij | nai010 Publishers | 2014 | Amazon | Review
Michiel van Raaij, author of the defunct blog Eikongraphia (Iconography), took that site's focus on iconic imagery into this collection of interviews with architects such as Denise Scott Brown, Ben van Berkel, Steven Holl, Winy Maas, and Bjarke Ingels. Like #3 above, the interviews purposely explore a particular theme and cater the selection of architects accordingly. The topic of large-scale symbolic architecture makes a lot of sense this century, when the desire for icons continues unabated.

11: PIN-UP Interviews by Felix Burrichter | powerHouse Books | 2013 | Amazon | Review
Although architects only make up a fraction of the interviews culled from PIN-UP Magazine into this book (about half to two-thirds), the selection of architects includes THE big names: David Adjaye, Santiago Calatrava, Zaha Hadid, Jacques Herzog, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, and Thom Mayne, among others. Like the magazine, the interviews are a bit lighthearted but also serious. A bonus is that many of the interviews are conducted by other architects, artists and so forth (not just PIN-UP editors), making the conversations often two-way affairs.

12: Studio Talk: Interview with 15 Architects by Yoshio Futagawa | ADA Edita | 2002 | Amazon
Yukio Futagawa, who died in 2013, was the founder and director of GA Architecture, the awesome magazine that fetches for high prices in the States. I've been a big fan of the various GA output (GA Houses, GA Document, etc.) since college, though I don't have as many as I'd like due to their prices; the ones I have I'd be hard-pressed to part with. GA is now helmed by his son, Yoshio, who is responsible for this collection of interviews culled from GA Document Extras. Among other things, it reveals that GA is in good hands.

On Japan:

13: Matter in the Floating World: Conversations with Leading Japanese Architects and Designers by Blaine Brownell | Princeton Architectural Press | 2011 | Amazon | Review
Studio Talk (#12) is a good segue into a few of the various books I have that feature interviews with Japanese architects. Blaine Brownell's conversations certainly are worth reading for those interested in architecture from Japan, particularly in regards to material innovation and sustainability. As the title indicates, it's not all architects, but the ones included are a good crop, including Shigeru Ban, Terunobu Fujimori, Jun Aoki, and Toyo Ito.

14: Project Japan: Metabolism Talks. by Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist | Taschen | 2011 | Amazon | Review
Soon after this oral history of "the first non-Western avant-garde movement in architecture" came out, I saw Koolhaas and Obrist in conversation at the New York Public Library. It was a little odd to see Obrist on the receiving end of questions from NYPL Live Director Paul Holdengräber, since Obrist is known for interviewing artists and architects, many of them in marathon sessions. (I have one collection of his interviews, but didn't include it here since architects are a small number of the personalities featured.) It was clear from the event that Koolhaas and Obrist make a good team, and their interviews with Kiyonori Kikutake, Fumihiko Maki, Kisho Kurokawa, and others are a joy to read, aided by Irma Boom's thoughtful book design.

15: Seven Interviews With Tadao Ando by Michael Auping | Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth | 2002 | Amazon | Review
More clients should do what Modern Art Museum curator did with Ando, when the museum across the street from Louis I. Kan's Kimbell Art Museum was under construction: he interviewed the architect each time he was in town for a meeting or site visit, assembling the interviews into a book, a handsome one at that (the cover image doesn't capture it, but the chip board cover has a grid of holes that echo Ando's concrete walls). The interviews allowed Auping to learn more about the architect, the building, and architecture in general, while doing the same for the reader.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

SeaGlass Carousel Opens Today

Here are some of my photos (and a video at bottom) of the SeaGlass Carousel by WXY Studio at Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.

The form of the small stainless steel and glass structure is inspired by nautilus shells.

Landscape design was carried out by Starr Whitehouse with Piet Oudolf.

The spiraling exterior rises toward the entry where the most glass is found.

George Tsypin Opera Factory was responsible for the production design of the aquatic-themed carousel.

Instead of riding horses, as is the norm with carousels, people sit inside one of 30 luminescent fish.

The experience is meant to be like a "mini opera" that makes people feel like they are underwater.

The total effect can't be captured here, since videos projected on the underside of spiraling ceiling will enhance the sense of immersion after sunset.

During yesterday's press preview, everybody riding the fish seemed to be having a great time.

Lastly, here's my amateur-hour video of the carousel's first run during yesterday's press preview:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Today's archidose #857

Here are some photos of the Fort York National Historic Site Visitors Centre (2015) in Toronto, Ontario, by Kearns Mancini Architects and Patkau Architects, photographed by Riley Snelling. See more photos of the project on Ryan Snelling's website.




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

Monday, August 17, 2015

Architecture as Subject for Art

Head over to World-Architects to check out Architecture As Subject for Art, a short Q&A feature I just posted on some artists using architecture and building as subjects for their artwork. The feature includes a number of artists that have been on this blog before: Lynette Jackson, Sarah McKenzie, SerraGlia, and Allan Wexler.

[Sarah McKenzie: Patriot, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 48 in x 72 in]

The intro from the piece:
To get a sense of how artists see and think of architecture, World-Architects sent a short questionairre to six artists: Lynette Jackson is a Georgia native whose work – much of it produced only on an iPhone – is heavily influenced by mid-20th-century architecture and design; Sarah McKenzie lives and works in Colorado where she paints buildings and landscapes in a state of flux; Daniel Mullen, born and Scotland, lives and works in Amsterdam where he creates paintings following from his passion for architecture; SerraGlia is the alias of Italian architect and visual designer Lorenzo Servi who is based in Finland and uses art as a medium to depict environments hovering between reality and fiction; Xavier Veilhan's interest in architecture spreads across multiple media, from sculpture and installations to film and "Architectones"; Allan Wexler is a New York City-based artist who has been exprimenting with architecture, design and fine art for 45 years.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

REX Honcho in Esquire

Most of the posts in my ongoing "architecture advertising" series focus on architects and/or buildings used in print ads, commercials, and other forms of advertising. As most people probably know, often advertising takes less obtrusive means, such as being embedded into editorial content. The most obvious means of this is the fashion spread, which is a magazine's way of saying "this is the way men or women should dress," but which is really advertising for the clothes being worn. In the latest Esquire, the "Epic" September Style Issue (subtitled "How to Dress Now") an architect makes an appearance on page 174 (of 190):

I'll admit it's pretty cool to find Joshua Prince-Ramus in the issue. He might not be the most obvious choice (BIG's Bjarke Ingels would make sense, though for all I know he's already done it), but his shaved head and cool determination work well. Heck, I'd buy those clothes. Wait – that outfit costs $16,175! Never mind.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Briefs #23

"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 daily or weekly pages.

2013 Competitions Annual edited by G. Stanley Collyer with Daniel Madryga | The Competition Project | 2014
This collection of the winners and runners up of fifteen architectural competitions – similar in format to the 2012 Competitions Annual – is framed by two themes, one on the back cover and one in the introduction: the increased role of landscape architects in competitions and large-scale architecture in general, and the need for better-designed affordable housing which eschews the misconceptions that arose from the (sometimes literal) implosion of public housing since the 1970s. Not all of the projects found within the book correspond to these themes, but there is more to be found that relates to landscape architecture than housing. Many of the projects are, not surprisingly, cultural and institutional, but there are a number of large-scale campus and infrastructure projects that are often led by landscape architects. Setting themes among the assembled competitions aside, this book, like the 2012 edition, benefits from editorial commentary, jury comments, and the inclusion of runners up and winners in one place. It is not an exhaustive collection of competitions from the calendar year 2013, but it is a strong collection that students and young architects in particular will benefit greatly from, given the impressive renderings and drawings found throughout.

Out of Scale: AIA Small Projects Awards edited by Marc Manack and Linda Reeder | ORO Editions | 2015 | Amazon
There is much to praise the AIA Small Project Awards Program: it gives young architects and small firms a chance at recognition, what they might not receive in the other awards categories; it recognizes the importance of small buildings, structures and spaces, not just big gestures; it recognizes that innovation often occurs at the small scale; and, to be honest, many of the winning projects are just more interesting than the larger buildings that win those other awards. With this in mind, and with the AIA Small Project Awards Program ten years old, now is a great time to have a book highlighting the winners. Yet this is hardly a straightforward presentation of the winners. The projects are presented chronologically in four chapters – Pavilions & Installations, Adaptive Reuse & Interiors, Houses, Details – yet some of them feature in more than one chapter; a year-by-year index on each project points to where it is in the book. Further, between each chapter are jury comments and loads of statistics that try to find common ground among the projects. The comments are fine, but I could have used without the statistics, instead giving more pages to the projects, which are documented primarily through small photos.

Road Trip: Roadside America, From Custard's Last Stand to the Wigwam Restaurant by Richard Longstreth | Universe | 2015 | Amazon
This isn't the type of book I'd normally review on my blog, but I'm a sucker for guidebooks focused on buildings, capital A architecture or not. As the name indicates this book is about vernacular roadside architecture in the United States, predominantly buildings and structures that were built between 1920 and the late 1960s; after that, the Interstate Highway System changed the landscape of roadside architecture into something more corporate and less idiosyncratic. The chapters illustrate just what was built in those decades: commercial strips, restaurants, gas stations, motels, stores, theaters, and "other places of entertainment." Each of these chapters has an introduction on the respective typology, followed by Longstreth's photographs with captions that indicate the what, where, and when. Most photos were taken in the 1970s, making Roadside America a visual history and remembrance of places under-appreciated in their time.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Measure opens tonight (running until September 12) at the Storefront for Art and Architecture.

It will be worth going just to see this drawing by James Wines on the measurable and immeasurable impact of the Storefront:

Participants include:
The Architecture Lobby
Barozzi / Veiga
Víctor Enrich
Fake Industries Architectural Agonism (Urtzi Grau, Cristina Goberna) and Georgia Jamieson
FIG Projects
Michelle Fornabai
Grimshaw Architects
Steven Holl
Bernard Khoury
Kohn Pedersen Fox Assoc.
KUTONOTUK (Matthew Jull + Leena Cho)
Erika Loana
Jon Lott / PARA Project
m-a-u-s-e-r (Mona Mahall + Asli Serbest)
MILLIØNS (John May + Zeina Koreitem)
Nicholas de Monchaux
Anna Neimark and Andrew Atwood / First Office
pneumastudio (Cathryn Dwyre + Chris Perry)
James Ramsey, RAAD Studio
Reiser + Umemoto
Mark Robbins
Selldorf Architects
Malkit Shoshan
Nader Tehrani / NADAAA
Urban-Think Tank
Anthony Titus
Ross Wimer
James Wines

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Today's archidose #856

Here are some photos of the Public Toilets (2011) in Uster, Switzerland, by Gramazio Kohler Architects, photographed by Ken Lee.

Public toilet, Uster, Switzerland

Public toilet, Uster, Switzerland

Public toilet, Uster, Switzerland

Public toilet, Uster, Switzerland

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Return to the Parrish Art Museum

At the end of 2012 I visited the Parrish Art Museum shortly after the grand opening of the Long Island institution's Herzog & de Meuron building, writing a weekly dose on it in early 2013. Over the weekend I finally returned, specifically to see the Tara Donovan Slinky sculptures. Those sculptures were decent, kind of worth the trip, but I was more impressed by how in just a over a couple years the building has integrated itself into the landscapes designed by Reed Hilderbrand Associates. So below are a few 2012/2015 photos comparisons (keep in mind that the views are not exact matches, but they are fairly close).

Southern roadside elevation in 2012:
Parrish Art Museum

Southern roadside elevation (with Roy Lichtenstein sculptures) in 2015:
Parrish Art Museum

Left is bioswale at parking lot in 2012 and right is bioswale in 2015:
Parrish Art MuseumParrish Art Museum

Approach to the museum from parking on the north in 2012:
Parrish Art Museum

Approach to the museum from parking on the north in 2015:
Parrish Art Museum

North elevation in 2012:
Parrish Art Museum

North elevation in 2015:
Parrish Art Museum

The southern elevation in 2012:
Parrish Art Museum

The southern elevation in 2015:
Parrish Art Museum