Friday, May 28, 2010

The Geotaggers' World Atlas

This is one of fifty a hundred maps marking geotagged Flickr and Picasa photos in cities. Here, obviously, is New York City. Clusters abound towards the Statue of Liberty, near the World Trade Center site, from the Brooklyn Heights promenade, on the High Line, in Central Park, at the United Nations and in most of Midtown south of the park. No surprises. The other cities are here.

(via Coudal)

Book Review: Behaviorology

The Architecture of Atelier Bow-Wow: Behaviorology by Atelier Bow-Wow
Rizzoli, 2010
Hardcover, 304 pages


Japanese architects Atelier Bow-Wow are known as much for the books they produce as for the houses they design. The two outputs are inextricably linked -- the former researching the urban conditions of Tokyo, where the duo lives, and the latter a fairly direct product of such research on hybrid conditions, small buildings and so forth. Made in Tokyo and Pet Architecture Guide Book are the most well-known products of their research, structured like guides but presenting unique takes on the city they call home. Behaviorology collects most of Atelier Bow-Wow's built work, art installations and their research on architecture and urbanism. In its pages one can see how the houses they've designed for themselves and other clients in Tokyo respond to the unique characteristics of the city, from its irregular plots and zoning requirements to seismic concerns and the social dynamic of families today. As well it's clear the duo's talents are not restricted to the single-family house in Tokyo, as their recent commissions take them into more diverse building types within and beyond Japan.

Alongside the documentation of Atelier Bow-Wow's output are essays by Terunobu Fujimori, Yoshikazu Nango, Meruro Washida and Enrique Walker. Each focuses on a different aspect of the practice, be it their architecture, research or installations. Fujimori's text on how their research has informed their architecture is most rewarding, extrapolating the idea of "behaviorology" set up by the architects in their introduction. In it he recalls "modernologist" Wajiro Kon, an architect who observed the city to such a great extent he left the profession to devote all his time to inquiries into temporary shelters and other modern phenomena. The author also discusses his own Roadway Observation Society (ROJO), practitioners of the "eccentric gaze," which Atelier Bow-Wow certainly embodies. Yet the duo have managed to observe and design, something neither Kon nor ROJO could manage. When we look beyond Japan today we find a plethora of practices balancing design and research -- Interboro, LAR, MAS Studio, to name a few -- a sign of the complexity of conditions today and the efforts to make sense of even a small portion of them. What sets Atelier Bow-Wow apart from many of their research/practice contemporaries is their sense of humor, their ability to find and express the absurd inherent in the places they study and build.

What is missing from this monograph on the Japanese duo are their distinctive and highly detailed drawings found in both their research and design work. Focusing instead on a photographic presentation of their architecture, one needs to use Graphic Anatomy as a companion to Behaviorology; in many cases the photos actually coincide with views penned beforehand. While the presentation of their architecture is therefore incomplete, the photographs do a very good job of conveying the spatial qualities of the primarily residential work; the inclusion of inhabitants in the photos is particularly helpful and refreshing. The photos work well with the large-format of the book, a well-made document of a practice that will surely continue to surprise.

US: Buy from CA: Buy from UK: Buy from

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Today's archidose #421

2010 02 05 vila hermina c, originally uploaded by david pasek.

Villa Hermína in Černín, Czech Republic by HŠH architekti, 2010. See architektur.aktuell for an article on the building by David Pasek (in German, in English here) with photos of the interior.

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:

:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool, and/or
:: Tag your photos archidose

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Does this graphic really surprise anyone?

[Comparison of Manhattan and Walmart built areas (slightly modified) | image source]

The above is from Jesse LeCavalier's essay "All Those Numbers" at Places: Design Observer. In it, the architect investigates "the design possibilities latent not only in Walmart’s building types but also in the organizational practices — especially its unparalleled expertise in logistics." LeCavalier's essay is recommended for clearly explaining how Walmart works, its number-centric approach that makes it so BIG but also so fiercely loathed by supporters of the local, especially in cities. This last frontier, the urban market, is partly the focus of LeCavalier's piece. And while I can't say I agree with an investigation of how the retailer can be successful in cities, the power, influence and willfulness of Walmart is certainly something to be considered, not ignored.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday, Monday

My weekly page update:

This week's dose features Aptos Retreat in Aptos, California by CCS Architecture:
this  week's  dose

The featured past dose is Canyon View in Los Angeles, California by Kanner Architects:
featured   past   dose

This week's book review is The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale by Steven Guarnaccia:
this week's book   review

Some unrelated links for your enjoyment:
"A place where you can read your daily/weekly update of the newest and nicest 'little things you want' about fashion, design, art and much more…" (added to sidebar under blogs::design+technology)

"The world of architecture as seen from Toronto." (added to sidebar under blogs::architecture)

Diamonstein-Spielvogel Video Archive
A Duke University archive on YouTube that "features interviews Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel conducted with prominent artists, musicians, architects, designers, photographers, directors, actors, writers, and art collectors documenting the arts world during the nineteen seventies and the nineteen eighties."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Today's archidose #420

BundschuhBaumhauer @ Torstrasse 3 , originally uploaded by d.teil.

Linienstraße 40 in Berlin, Germany by BundschuhBaumhauer, 2010.

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:

:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool, and/or
:: Tag your photos archidose

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today's archidose #419

Here are some photos of 8 House in Southern Ørestad, Copenhagen, Denmark by Bjarke Ingels Group, 2010. Photographs are by seier+seier.

bjarke ingels group, BIG, bighouse or 8-tallet, copenhagen 2006-2010

entry. bjarke ingels group, BIG, bighouse or 8-tallet, copenhagen 2006-2010

view. bjarke ingels group, BIG, bighouse or 8-tallet, copenhagen 2006-2010

descending. bjarke ingels group, BIG, bighouse or 8-tallet, copenhagen 2006-2010

kubrick moment. bjarke ingels group, BIG, bighouse or 8-tallet, copenhagen 2006-2010

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:

:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool, and/or
:: Tag your photos archidose

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sukkah City

Sukkah City: New York City is an international design-build competition "that will result in 12 radically temporary, experimental structures being constructed in Union Square Park, NYC this fall."


Some of the rules:


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SANAA Celebration

Tomorrow the New Museum is throwing open its doors for free, in celebration of SANAA's recent Pritzker Prize victory -- awarded to them in a ceremony on Monday at Ellis Island (see coveragge at ArchDaily). Not only is admission free, building tours "by experts that were on the building’s original core architecture team" will be held throughout the day. For those who cannot make it, I highly recommend Shift, a case study on the SANAA-designed building, edited by Joseph Grima and Karen Wong, published by Lars Müller. The book features interviews with many of the players giving the tours and some excellent visual documentation of the design and construction process.

[photograph by Dean Kaufman | courtesy New Museum]
Schedule of Tours:

12:30 p.m. Jonas Elding, Project Architect at SANAA for the New Museum and co-founder of the architecture firm Elding Oscarson

1:30 p.m. Brett Schneider, Project Engineer at Guy Nordenson and Associates, Structural Engineer for both SANAA’s Toledo Museum of Art and the New Museum

2:30 p.m. Toshihiro Oki, Project Architect at SANAA for both the New Museum and the Derek Lam flagship store

3:30 p.m. Maddy Burke-Vigeland, Principal at Gensler, Executive Architect for the New Museum

4:30 p.m. Justin Davidson, architecture and classical music critic of New York magazine and winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in criticism for his work as the classical music and architecture critic at Newsday

5:30 p.m. Florian Idenburg, Chief Project Architect at SANAA for the New Museum; co-founder of SO – IL; and winner of the 2010 MoMA Young Architect Program

76 Days and Counting

Pamphlet Architecture 32 announced:

Competition theme: Resilience

By addressing the capacity to cope, the ability to bounce back, and the mitigation and management of risk, proposals are welcome that showcase a fresh understanding of the possibilities and opportunities of resilience in architecture, from the large to the small scale. Whether resilience stems from natural disaster, civil conflict, global warming, catastrophe, and so on, is the applicant’s discretion. Please visit the submission site for more details.

The winner will receive a prize of $2,500 and the opportunity to have their manuscript published by Princeton Architectural Press as Pamphlet Architecture 32. The registration fee is $25 for students and $50 for professionals.

The winner will be announced in September.

Monday, May 17, 2010

NYC Imagined and Made

Last week was the opening of The City We Imagined/The City We Made, an "exhibition about architecture, planning, and development in New York since 2001" by The Architectural League now on display at 250 Hudson Street. The storefront is one short block from the new Trump SoHo Hotel, as much a symbol as any of the city's 21st-century changes. The two sides evident in the exhibition's title are presented on the inside (made) and outside (imagined) of a snaking partition of cardboard, designed by locals Moorhead & Moorhead. Both sides are thoroughly documented, the former via color-coded sheets of paper describing major developments and buildings in the decade, the latter via volunteer photographs overseen by Esto. With this layout one cannot look at the city imagined and made simultaneously, as if the League wanted a clear demarcation between the two, even though such a fine line in reality is arguable.

[The City Imagined (top) and Made (bottom) | image source]

Where the Imagined focuses on developments like Atlantic Yards or planning initiatives like Hudson Yards, Made is a for-grabs assortment of buildings and spaces around the city that veer from the mundane to the high-profile; the range is great and subtle threads are illuminated via the arrangement of photos. What can be found in the Made images that is missing in Imagined is the messy vitality of the city. This is not a surprise, since most developments -- top-down in nature -- try to eliminate the unpredictable in their presentations and focus on the final product ... if there is such a thing. The City We Made shows NYC as it always is: in continual change. Renderings of large-scale developments showcase an architecture that never happens, because plans change, the surroundings change, and designers are dropped in favor of other designers; Atlantic Yards is the best case in point.

What also comes across in the Made images is the small scale fabric of the city, something apparently at odds with the grand Imagined developments. While this fact could come down to something as small as the preference of the volunteer photographers, I think it points to the persistence of small changes in the city's various neighborhoods in the face of high-profile developments focused in a few areas of money and potential. An infill project can carry as much weight as a decked railyard in the lives of local residents. Of course one has to wonder if the developments could learn something from "the other half," if reality could inform them with the fine-grain qualities, the messy vitality and the ongoing change that is the city, breaking down the wall between the two realms.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Today's archidose #418

A couple art installations/interventions:

Vitra Design Museum
Fernando and Humberto Campana's My Home Exhibition installation on Frank Gehry's Vitra Design Museum in Weil Am Rhein, Germany, 2007.

Stadshaard Roombeek 2
Hugo Kaagman's district heating plant in Roombeek, Enschede, Netherlands, date unknown.

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:

:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool, and/or
:: Tag your photos archidose

Thursday, May 13, 2010

NYC Guidebook Find

Even though I'm immersed in the writing of my guidebook to New York City contemporary architecture, having put a kibosh on researching what buildings will be included, I still discover little gems that manage to work their way into the book. A good example of that is Peter Gluck and Partners' Urban Townhouse, which I found on the architect's web page yesterday and saw in person earlier today. (Like just about everything else to be found in my book, this house was featured on Curbed previously, though I'll admit it's hard to keep up with a site updated so frequently.) Similar to Gluck's other recent projects, the design is an exercise in random orthogonal patterning across the facade, in this case a small-scale pixelation clearly at odds with its old neighbors.


The townhouse is on East 51st Street, a pleasant street with three- and four-story buildings, steps from the towers of Midtown. Speaking with a man familiar with the area and its residents, when the house was slowly revealed with the removal of scaffolding reactions were polar: love it or hate it. This goes along with most contemporary architecture, especially when it is inserted in the historical fabric of the city.


Here the scale of the neighboring brick buildings is directly translated into the metal panels punctuated by openings about the size of a brick. The larger scale and rhythm of punched openings is eschewed in favor of a fairly monolithic reading for the facade. These metal panels, as can be seen below, sit in front of another wall with small rectangular openings.


What may appear to be merely a show by the architect is related to the townhouse's plan. With a small lot of 18' wide by 38' deep, the stairs are located along the front wall, instead of the usual location along a party wall. The stairs zig-zag up this face and act as a buffer between the public realm and the private areas of the house with more generous glazing towards the rear of the house. This zig-zag is subtly echoed by the rectangular openings and the clustering of small openings in the facade. A multi-level bookcase occupies the inside face of the street elevation.


This townhouse may look completely at odds with its surroundings, but it tries harder to relate to its neighbors than, say, Matthew Baird's Town House fronted by a single sheet of Cor-ten steel. The opposition in both is tangible, but the brick-size scale of the openings and the layered facade (something more apparent at night) are contemporary interpretations of historical precedents, be they historical or modern. Still, people will either love it or hate it regardless of its attempts (intentional or not) at finding ways to bridge old and new.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review: The L!brary Book

The L!brary Book: Design Collaborations in the Public Schools by Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi
Princeton Architectural Press, 2010
Paperback, 176 pages


Memories of the library in my grade school are strong, even though what prevails is not the physical aspects of it but the time spent there looking at books, learning how to use computers, and being shushed for talking. I'm sure the importance of the library in my early education is a trait shared by many, so it's no surprise that the Robin Hood Foundation has focused its initiative with the New York City Board of Education on these spaces, hubs for learning both in school and after school. As the traditional aspects of the library -- books and other print media -- are being challenged by the digital, the design of libraries, big and small, is changing to encompass broader and more diverse ways of obtaining and sharing information. We find ourselves on the cusp of great changes, but the book, its storage, and what it stores are still the cornerstone of libraries in schools. That fact is evident in the pages of this book celebrating the results of the Robin Hood Foundation's first decade, from the ways casework actively shapes the different spaces in the libraries to the graphics that adorn the walls. Spaces for computers and classes are provided, but the bookcases are the defining elements for each library.

Twelve case studies are presented for libraries designed by Gluckman Mayner Architects, Leroy Street Studio, Rogers Marvel Architects, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, and others, with graphic elements by 2x4 and Pentagram. The last play an important part in the success of the library designs, and about half the book is devoted to the murals and other 2d pieces that help shape the spaces in bright and captivating ways. For example, 2x4's contribution to a Gluckman Mayner library in Manhattan covers the ceiling and walls above the bookcases in a sky/cloud graphic further activated by light coverings designed with the architects to mimic the flight of birds. Many of the designers work pro bono for these commissions, but the results are not B-game. Their attention extends to selecting the location for the library (many are created by consolidating three classrooms into one space) with some great results, like a second floor space wrapping an entry stair and an attic gym complete with tiered seating and a stellar view of Manhattan. This book is also carefully crafted, thoroughly documenting the case studies with numerous photos and drawings. It makes me realize that if I would have grown up with one of these libraries I'd surely remember the space, not just the books.

Pardon the late warning: Tonight The Architectural League is hosting a panel discussion on the Library Initiative at the Scholastic Auditorium in SoHo. Panelists include Scott Lauer, Harold Levy, Henry Myerberg, David Saltzman and Lonni Tanner, with an introduction by Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi. It's moderated by Rosalie Genevro.

US: Buy from CA: Buy from UK: Buy from

NYC's Dream Airport

In July last year I posted about The Manhattan Airport Foundation's absurd proposal to transform Central Park into an airport. Well, that's got nothing on William Zeckendorf's dream airport for New York City, published in the March 18, 1946 issue of Life Magazine.

New York City's Dream Airport

According to the magazine's text (found at Ptak Science Books where I discovered this gem), the airport would have covered 144 city blocks from 24th to 71st Streets and from Ninth Avenue to the Hudson River. (The view above is looking south.) That's approximately 990 acres 200-feet above the streets of Manhattan.

To quote Life, Zeckendorf thinks the $3 billion price tag "can be paid off by rental income within 55 years after the project is completed." Further, and quite optimistically, "although the Manhattan terminal is still in the drawing-board stage and has not yet had approval of New York officials, the planners expect that the increasing tide of air travel will make their idea a necessity." Considering I didn't notice an airport over my head the last time I walked west of Ninth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen, it looks like it wasn't as necessary as the planners imagined.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Architectural Theatrics

A handful of theatrical performances this Spring, all in New York City, incorporate architecture in various ways, be it thematic or set design. Below are some details on this synchronistic phenomenon.

Architecture of Dance
For the New York City Ballet's New Choreography and Music Festival, Santiago Calatrava has designed five sets for what's being called Architecture of Dance, showing now at Lincoln Center until June 27. Calatrava seems like a wise choice for this undertaking, given the inspiration he finds in the human body, the kineticism of some of his projects, and of course his name. The circles above, for example, move and overlap to activate the scenography and give the dancers something to respond to. Check out the video on the AOD mini-site for shots of this movement and explanation by Calatrava. The festival also commemorates the 50th anniversary of Lincoln Center.


For the Metropolitan Opera's recent production of Attila, Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron created the sets and Miuccia Prada designed the costumes. The 19th-century play composed by Verdi "tells the story of civilization’s encounter with barbarism" across a backdrop of "destruction, rubble, lagoon, forest, darkness" rendered "all in a very naturalistic way" by the Swiss architects. The Architects Newspaper's blog has some photos of the floating rubble and vegetation.

The Bilbao Effect
The Bilbao Effect is the second part of a planned trilogy on contemporary architecture by Oren Safdie, the son of well-known architect Moshe Safdie. The younger's first play in the trilogy was 2003's Private Jokes, Public Places, which focused on gender roles in architecture and was set during an architecture student's project critique. The Bilbao Effect, opening for previews on March 12 at the Center for Architecture, "puts contemporary architecture on trial" after an architect's redevelopment project on Staten Island supposedly leads to a woman's suicide. Frank Gehry's presence in the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn is clearly a precedent for the play, especially since his Guggenheim in Spain led to the term of the play's title. The show runs until June 5.

The Glass House
The Glass House by June Finfer (directed by Evan Bergman) uses the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson's Glass House as backgrounds for "the penetrating dramatic plot that entwines the epic conflict between artist and patron." Further, "Resonance Ensemble is presenting the play is in repertory with Ibsen's The Master Builder."

Theatre for One

Theatre For One from Theatre For One on Vimeo.

"Theatre for One is a portable performing arts space for one performer and one audience member, that turns public events into private acts, making each performance a singularly intimate exchange." Conceived by Christine Jones and designed by LOT-EK, the object will be in Times Square's Duffy Square for ten days, from May 14-23.
Theatre for One resembles a reconfigured "road box" used for theater and other productions. This is certainly in keeping with LOT-EK's preference for reusing prefab and modular constructions from outside architecture. Inside is red padded velvet, recalling the previous occupants of much of Times Square, peeping booths. This interior, which can be seen at BLDGBLOG, reminds me of a science-fiction film, like a cockpit from 2001 transplanted to Times Square.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday, Monday

My weekly page update:

(**NOTE: The next update on my weekly page will be 2010.05.24.**)

This week's dose features Zamet Center in Rijeka, Croatia by 3LHD:
this  week's dose

The featured past dose is Hotel Lone in Rovinj, Croatia by 3LHD:
featured   past  dose

This week's book review is HYBRIDS III: Residential Mixed-Use Buildings by Aurora Fernández Per:
this  week's book  review

Some unrelated links for your enjoyment:
Building for Life
"The UK's "standard for well-designed homes and neighborhoods." Be sure to check out the case studies.

Floornature Itineraries
"Virtual tours of contemporary architecture in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris and other cities." (added to sidebar under architectural links::guides)

A new blog, sometimes in Italian, sometimes in English (added to sidebar under blogs::architecture)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Today's archidose #417

PARIS-MASSENA Dwellings: F.Soler, originally uploaded by hororo.

Residential building in the Massena quarter of Paris, France by Francis Soler, 1997.

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:

:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool, and/or
:: Tag your photos archidose

Friday, May 07, 2010

Meier Model Museum

About a block from the East River and the Pepsi sign in Long Island City is the Richard Meier Model Museum. Its presence is subtly discerned by a sign rendered in the familiar typographics and abundant white space that graces the architect's monographs, web page and everything else with the architect's stamp of approval.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[the unassuming front door to the Richard Meier Model Museum]

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend a press tour of the museum with the architect himself, a day before it reopens to the public for its 2010 season. Below are some photographs I shot and some commentary on the 3,600sf space featuring works from the 1960s to the present.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[view of the museum from the direction of the entrance]

Entering the third floor museum, the primarily wood models stand out in the all-white space. About half of the square footage is occupied by Getty Center models, from small-scale studies to a huge highly detailed, 16-piece model (foreground above) and an inhabitable gallery space used for studying daylighting (background above). The effect is certainly overwhelming, further elevating the significance of the master architect.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[looking the opposite direction of the previous photo]

What comes across in the myriad models is an unbelievable level of perfection and a consistency that jibes with Meier's buildings across his 40-odd year career. Study models seen earlier in a brief tour of Meier's west side office were anything but, resembling finished models more than works in progress. Precision and a refinement of space, light, material and detail predominate. My own tastes lean towards architects who vary their output in form and style according to the site and program at hand, but my admittedly inferior model-making skills make me appreciate the craft and patience they exhibit.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[early "studies" for the Getty Center]

Richard Meier Model Museum
[Mr. Meier describing the Getty Center project]

Of the Getty Center models, perhaps my favorite was the one with a scale somewhere between the "studies" and the large-scale model loomed over by Meier above. Below is a detail of a quite big and highly detailed one-piece model that had to be craned into the museum through a now-covered skylight. I seem to recall the model being 16' long! I like it because it gives a much better sense of the overall project than the others, which are either too small to get into the particulars of each building, or too large to be absorbed at once. This one really conveys the scale and grandeur of the 15-year-long project.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[another Getty Center model]

While the Getty is represented by a double-digit number of models, only one exists for the World Trade Center proposal Meier developed with Peter Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey and Steven Holl.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[WTC proposal model]

As most know the relatively diagrammatic design did not make it to the final round, but Meier holds high regard for the proposal and what it embodies, particularly in terms of how voids represent memory.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[Meier in the void between the two towers]

Lastly are the steel sculptures that Meier has created in his free time, messy assemblages compared to his crisp, precise, white buildings. An outlet from the rigor of his practice?

Richard Meier Model Museum
[Meier's artwork adorns the walls]

Previously I "mashed up" some of Meier's freestanding pieces with photos of his buildings to illustrate the discrepancy. In the model musuem, a real mash-up occurs in the juxtaposition between the crafted models and still crafted but uniquely different steel sculptures.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[models galore]

Those interested in visiting the Richard Meier Model Museum -- open on Fridays until August 27 -- should call his office at 212-967-6060.

Update 05.17: Some coverage from other tour-goers:
:: Aaron Dougherty
:: Archinect
:: Architizer
:: Cool Hunting