Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Open-Ended City

The Open-Ended City: David Dillon on Texas Architecture
Kathryn E. Holliday (Editor)
University of Texas Press, May 2019



Hardcover | 6 x 9 inches | 448 pages | 62 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1477317617 | $29.95

Publisher Description:
In 1980, David Dillon launched his career as an architectural critic with a provocative article that asked “Why Is Dallas Architecture So Bad?” Over the next quarter century, he offered readers of the Dallas Morning News a vision of how good architecture and planning could improve quality of life, combatting the negative effects of urban sprawl, civic fragmentation, and rapacious real estate development typical in Texas cities. The Open-Ended City gathers more than sixty key articles that helped establish Dillon’s national reputation as a witty and acerbic critic, showing readers why architecture matters and how it can enrich their lives.

Kathryn E. Holliday discusses how Dillon connected culture, commerce, history, and public life in ways that few columnists and reporters ever get the opportunity to do. The articles she includes touch on major themes that animated Dillon’s writing: downtown redevelopment, suburban sprawl, arts and culture, historic preservation, and the necessity of aesthetic quality in architecture as a baseline for thriving communities. While the specifics of these articles will resonate with those who care about Dallas, Fort Worth, and other Texas cities, they are also deeply relevant to all architects, urbanists, and citizens who engage in the public life and planning of cities. As a collection,
The Open-Ended City persuasively demonstrates how a discerning critic helped to shape a landmark city by shaping the conversation about its architecture.

dDAB Commentary:
If David Dillon, architecture critic at the Dallas Morning News from 1981 to 2006, were still alive he'd be 78 years old. Dillon died in 2010, though when I think about it now it doesn't seem so long ago that I heard the news. He was one of the most respected US architecture critics when he died, though he hadn't written regular columns for a few years. In "Architecture criticism and the public" from a 2009 issue of Texas Architect — one of Dillon's last pieces and included in this collection of his best writings — he explains how he took a buyout from the newspaper in 2006 and then states bluntly, "I will not be replaced." Yet readers of DMN, or people starved for serious architectural criticism online, know that the paper does have an architectural critic: Mark Lamster. He was appointed to the post in 2013, also taking a professorship at University of Texas Arlington. The two positions are related. As Kathryn Holliday points out at the beginning of her edited collection of Dillon's articles, a partnership between DMN and UTA emerged after the David Dillon Symposium in 2012, which itself took place one year after the formation of the David Dillon Center for Texas Architecture at UTA. In other words, Dillon's sudden, untimely death in 2010 at the age of only 68 led to a critic filling his old post at the paper and a new educational entity that helps in extending Dillon's approach to criticism, in which accessible writing aided in enabling meaningful public debates over changes to the built environment, further into the 21st century.

The Open-Ended City collects more than 65 pieces (of well over 1,000) Dillon wrote for the Dallas Morning News as well as a couple pieces written for other publications, including the Texas Architect article already mentioned and what is probably his most influential and lasting text: "Why is Dallas architecture so bad?" from a 1980 issue of D Magazine. Those two essays appear in the first chapter, The Critic's Voice, and the DMN pieces follow in six thematic chapters: Rethinking Downtown, The Metropolitan Landscape, Arts Districts, Historic Preservation, Texas Architects and Developers, and Aesthetics and Architecture. Bookending these chapters are Holliday's introduction, which gives background on Dillon's 25-year tenure and explains how the essays were selected, and an afterword by Stephen Fox, adapted from a paper at the 2012 symposium that put Dillon's work into a deeper lineage of architectural criticism in Texas. The thematic chapters make it clear that Dillon did not write about just capital-A architecture; he looked at the whole built environment. With articles in chronological order across each chapter and titles that are highly descriptive (e.g., "The new skyline: Once it looked like Everytown, USA. Now Dallas has grown up," from December 1987), it's easy to jump around the book based on one's interests. Of course, given Dillon's focus on local criticism, residents of Dallas will be drawn to the book more than outsiders. But in 2019, when architectural criticism in the US is hard to come by (Lamster is in the minority), Dillon's articles still provide plenty of lessons while tracing a changing metropolis he influenced in his own way.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Kathryn Holliday is an associate professor of architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington, where she is also the founding director of the David Dillon Center for Texas Architecture. She is the author of Leopold Eidlitz: Architecture and Idealism in the Gilded Age and Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century.
Purchase Links:
(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)

Buy from Amazon Buy from Book Depository Buy via IndieBound Buy from AbeBooks

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Naegele's Guide to the Only Good Architecture in Iowa

Naegele's Guide to the Only Good Architecture in Iowa
Daniel Naegele
Culicidae Architectural Press, 2019



Paperback | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches | 274 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1683150152 | $24.95

Publisher Description:
Naegele’s Guide to the Only Good Architecture in Iowa is a deceptive title but it is not a misnomer. Guide is accurate. Iowa is fairly accurate. Naegele’s is there because this is a personal account, one that makes no attempt to be unbiased. Naegele’s qualifies Good, “good” being not absolute but contingent and personal and therefore a very questionable qualifier. Only is the title’s difficult word. “Only Good Architecture in Iowa” suggests that architecture is a scarce commodity in Iowa, a suggestion with which Naegele would agree if by “architecture” one means high architecture.

By Architecture, however, Naegele means “good building,” regardless of whether or not that which is built was designed by an architect or whether, in fact, it is a habitable structure or even a building at all. Most entries in this guide are concerned either with vernacular works that are habitable tools—barns, corncribs, ventilator machines, silos—or with built works that are not really buildings at all: billboards, bridges, murals, graveyards, landscapes, wind turbines and water towers. Only brings irony to the title, rendering questionable the assumption it asserts and initiating debate within an otherwise matter-of-fact description. Its inclusion in the title predicts the book’s mildly contentious, but always utterly practical, nature.
dDAB Commentary:
Iowa and the six states that it borders (yes, it borders that many states), including Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri, are often lumped into the dismissive phrase "flyover country," of course referring to people zipping back and forth between the East and West Coasts and rarely, if ever, hopping off in between. As a born, bred, and educated Midwesterner, for me Iowa was, though not much better, "drive-through country." By this I don't mean it was the land of drive-thru banks, food, and the like (what US place isn't?), but that it was a state that was often between my starting point and destination. When I upped and left suburban Chicago for college many years ago, I spent one night in Des Moines with my family before heading south to Kansas, having taken I-80 to I-35, the two main routes through Iowa. Most recently, when taking a week-long looping family road trip that went from Missouri to Wyoming and back again, it was one night in Sioux City before skirting down along the Missouri River on I-29. In both cases Iowa wasn't a destination; the state was a layover on the way to somewhere else in some other state. But what if Iowa was seen as a destination in its own right? And what if Naegele's Guide was available back then and served as my guide to the state's wide-ranging architecture?

For starters, I would have made sure to see the Woodbury County Courthouse in Sioux City, what Naegele calls, "hands down," Iowa's "Building of the Century." I also would have seen plenty of capital-A architecture in Des Moines: buildings by Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe, and Harry Weese on the Drake University Campus, which was masterplanned by the Saarinens; the Des Moines Art Center, first designed by Eliel Saarinen (1948) then added on to by I.M. Pei (1968) and Richard Meier (1984); and a couple bravado concrete buildings by lesser known architect James Brewer: the Big Beam Building he designed for a church on University Avenue and a Drive-Under Bridge Bank on East Euclid. These last two appear to be buildings that wouldn't find their way into a typical guidebook (I haven't seen David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim's earlier Buildings of Iowa to know for sure), which would ordinarily make them difficult to come across. Here, the precise address for the bank is helpful, but the general address for Big Beam (just "University Avenue"?) is just the opposite. But with Naegele's Guide embracing Architecture as well as farm buildings, billboards, wind turbines, and even ephemera (the "'T' Building" in the fourth spread, demolished in 2017, is just one example), much of it well outside of Des Moines, Sioux City, and other cities, the directions provided aren't always clear. But what is problematic for me, when trying to provide a link here to buildings on Google Maps, is hopefully refreshing for people driving around the state exploring Iowa's hidden treasures — who knows what else they'll come across along the way? For those not heading to Iowa anytime soon, though, Naegele's Guide is full of witty, critical takes on architecture in a state not known for it, making it a joy to read from a distance.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Daniel Naegele is an architect and associate professor of architecture at Iowa State University. A graduate of Yale University and of the Architectural Association in London, he completed his dissertation, Le Corbusier's Seeing Things: Ambiguity and Illusion in the Representation of Modern Architecture, under the supervision of Joseph Rykwert at the University of Pennsylvania in 1996.
Purchase Link:

Monday, September 16, 2019

Site

Site: Marmol Radziner in the Landscape
Leo Marmol + Ron Radziner, Mona Simpson (Foreword)
Princeton Architectural Press, September 2019



Hardcover | 10 x 13 inches | 312 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1616898168 | $65.00

Publisher Description:
The spectacular houses of Marmol Radziner merge interior and exterior life as they engage the built and natural environment. With lush photography and an expansive format, Site: Marmol Radziner in the Landscape focuses on the evolving relationship between house and landscape, revealing what the architects describe as "the gradual erasure of boundaries between indoor and outdoor" spaces.

This collection of nineteen houses, shown in over two-hundred full color photographs that will make readers swoon, is organized by habitat---desert, urban, canyon, and woodland---and includes projects in Arizona, Southern California, Utah, Nevada, and the Netherlands. A foreword by novelist Mona Simpson provides a personal reflection on her experiences in a Marmol Radziner house, while an interview with Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner and detailed descriptions of their projects offer insights into the architects' philosophy and process.
dDAB Commentary:
When I think about Marmol Radziner, the California practice of Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner, a few things come to mind: their restorations of modern houses designed by Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, John Lautner, Cliff May, and other famed SoCal architects; their embrace of prefab in modern residential houses; and the fact Marmol Radziner is a design-build firm, a rarity in the realm of architecture. In Site: Marmol Radziner in the Landscape, these distinctive traits are set aside in favor of a focus, as the subtitle makes clear, on the relationship between the houses they design and the landscapes they inhabit. Site presents 19 large houses (ranging from 2,100 to 12,000 square feet, with an average floor area is 5,678 sf) across four natural/geographic chapters: Canyon, Desert, Urban, and Woodland. Most of the houses are located in Southern California, though some are also found in Northern California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, with one house — the book's closer, so perhaps a sign of things to come — in Europe: Villa Amsterdam, completed in 2017.

The short descriptions for each house, like the interview that comes before them, accentuate the importance of site and landscape in how Marmol and Radziner compose their residential designs. Unfortunately, no floor plans or site plans accompany the many color photos documenting the houses. This monograph, similar to the Oppenheim Architecture monograph reviewed last week, relies almost exclusively on the professional photos that beautifully capture the houses. The photos, free of captions, convey how the houses sit in their gardens, how the interior spaces look onto the landscapes, and how skilled the architects are at crafting comfortable living spaces in a modern idiom. With thick, embossed chip board covers that hint at the imagery inside, a large page size, and lots of color photos, Site is a very handsome coffee table book on very talented architects-slash-contractors. Yet I can't agree with Marmol and Radziner's assertion in the Preface that Site is not a traditional monograph, unless the omission of plans over even more photos of houses and gardens makes it such. In which case I'll take a traditional monograph any day.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Marmol Radziner, a California-based architecture firm established in 1989 by Leo Marmol, FAIA, and Ron Radziner, FAIA, is known equally for its own designs and its restoration of modern masterworks, including homes by Richard Neutra, R. M. Schindler, and John Lautner.
Purchase Links:
(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)

Buy from Amazon Buy from Book Depository Buy via IndieBound Buy from AbeBooks

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Circumventions

Circumventions
Michael Rakowitz
onestar press, 2003



Paperback | 5-1/2 x 8-3/4 inches | 162 pages | English | ISBN: 978-2915359046 | 35 €

Publisher Description:
When the parasite sets in, small white bubbles rise up. They are warm, transparent and may appear anywhere. Cases have been documented in Boston, Cambridge and New York and the number is increasing. The appearance is not on the skin but on the sidewalks.

New York artist Michael Rakowitz is the engineer of
paraSITE, a temporary living space for the homeless. We may see homeless citizens every day, but now we see them unexpectedly, living inside what looks like a space age tent. paraSITE uses the warm air that escapes buildings to inflate and to provide night-time shelter. The cities and their buildings become hosts for the homeless, providing a short term solution for an ongoing condition. Rakowitz presents paraSITE in a new edition by onestar press and the Dena Foundation for Contemporary Art.

Circumventions includes preliminary drawings, photos and an interview by Carolyn Christoph-Bakergiev, chief curator at Castello di Rivoli. The new book also reviews Rakowitz’s other projects including one in which he successfully relocated the aroma of a Chinese bakery up into a gallery. This November, Rakowitz will receive the 2003 Dena Art Award. A paraSITE is also planned for Paris.
dDAB Commentary:
One of the 44 projects in Scott Burnham's Reprogramming the City, reviewed a couple days ago, is Michael Rakowitz's paraSITE, an artwork started in 1998 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and extended to the artist's native New York City the following year (according his website, paraSITE is ongoing). Rakowitz assembled plastic bags into double-layer enclosures that, after being hooked up to HVAC vents at the base of buildings, would simultaneously inflate and heat the enclosure. It's a remarkably creative idea — maybe even unprecedented — that provided comfort for homeless individuals and took advantage of otherwise wasted output. But as Rakowitz asserts in an interview at the start of this book, "it is dangerous to call it acceptable design," because it "prolongs life on the streets." By being art rather than design, paraSITE "highlights unacceptable circumstances that have not received adequate attention from designers." Its inclusion in Burnham's book is a testament to the originality of Rakowitz's artwork, its prolonged confusion as design, and the continued inattention on the part of designers.

Circumventions, published on the occasion of the 2003 Dena Foundation Art Award, primarily, but not exclusively, documents and discusses paraSITE. It also includes sketches and photos of Climate Control, which was installed at PS1 in 2000-01, its looping ducts echoing paraSITE and finding further appeal with architects — and maybe even mechanical engineers. There's also Rise, from the same year, which saw Rakowitz play with more ducts, using one to draw the smells of a Chinatown bakery to the gallery upstairs. Rakowitz's art may seem like variations on one theme given these three works, but the book also includes Romanticized All Out of Proportion (2002-03), in which he installed small cameras in the famous Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum of Art, with each view referencing a famous scene from a film shot in NYC. And Minaret saw the artist ascend "architecturally appropriate" rooftops in Manhattan and project the Islamic call to prayer with a megaphone and an alarm clock bought in Jordan. This last artwork seems disconnected from the rest, but having seen the artist speak earlier this year at the Met as part of its annual A Year of Architecture in a Day — he talked about the sculpture he installed in front of London's National Gallery of Art, The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, a recreation of an ancient Iraqi sculpture made with date syrup cans — it appears that the themes of Minaret eventually took precedence over those of paraSITE.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Michael Rakowitz is an artist living and working in Chicago. In 1998 he initiated paraSITE, an ongoing project in which the artist custom builds inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to the exterior outtake vents of a building’s heating, ventilation, or air conditioning system.
Purchase Links:
(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)

Buy from Amazon Buy from Book Depository Buy via IndieBound Buy from AbeBooks

Friday, September 13, 2019

Reprogramming the City

Reprogramming the City: Doing More with What We Have
Scott Burnham
VRMNTR, 2018



Paperback | 7 x 10 inches | 214 pages | 377 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1945971013 | $19.95

Publisher Description:
Reprogramming the City is a 214-page collection of over 40 examples of adaptive reuse in an urban context from 17 countries showing innovative ways existing urban infrastructure and other elements are being reused and repurposed for new use in cities around the world. From billboards in Lima, Peru, that now generate fresh drinking water to bus stops in northern Sweden transformed to boost the mental health of commuters during dark winter months, Reprogramming the City reveals the untapped potential of adaptive reuse and repurposing urban objects for new use to improve life for urban residents.

Organized into the thematic chapters of Food and Water, Housing and Shelter, Health and Wellbeing, Energy and Ecology and Renewal and Recovery, this book shows how the full range of human needs can be realized from the assets cities already have in place through adaptive reuse and repurposing.
dDAB Commentary:
With all the hype over Big Data in recent years, particularly how it will infiltrate (has infiltrated?) cities to make them better places to live, it seems logical that the inclusion of "reprogramming" in this book's title would align it with such techno-utopian dreams. But the 44 examples of adaptive reuse that Scott Burnham presents are physical solutions rather than purely digital ones (there are some solutions that incorporate computer programming though). More specifically, Burnham focuses on how designers are adapting obsolete infrastructure — what he calls in a more business-like parlance "existing urban assets" — with new uses that respond to contemporary life. The solutions he has assembled aim to make life better for people living in cities, often for those typically overlooked by designers and bureaucrats, while also bypassing the demolition of obsolete or abandoned buildings and infrastructure. These are socially minded designs rooted in sustainability.

The 44 projects are gathered into five color-coded, paired-word chapters: Food + Water, Housing + Shelter, Health + Wellbeing, Energy + Ecology, and Renewal + Recovery. Although the architect in me was drawn to the second chapter, Housing + Shelter, some of the most creative designs are found elsewhere. There's the water billboard that graces the cover, in which clean water is drawn from the humid air over Lima, Peru, and made available to anybody turning on the faucet at its base. Also in the Food + Water category is the Borneo Project, which turns fire hydrants into drinking fountains when not in use (most of the time, that is) by firefighters. These projects and the two examples shown below (Michael Rakowitz's paraSITE from the Housing + Shelter chapter and Edge Design Institute's The Cascade from the Health + Wellbeing chapter) are built, but the book also has speculative designs not yet implemented. I always prefer built examples, yet given the fact the built designs tend to be demonstration projects, artworks, one-off installations, or even exercises in corporate branding (e.g., JetBlue's small rooftop farm at JFK), it's safe to assume the designs are not widespread and cities still need work. And that's where Burnham's book comes in; it's an argument for using existing resources in creative ways, not a catalog of solutions to be implemented. As such, the book is ideal for city leaders unsure of what to do with outdated infrastructure, as well as for designers interested in the idea of "reprogramming" cities and in need of inspiration.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Scott Burnham is an author, keynote speaker, and strategist specializing in resourceful solutions for sustainable cities and helping people be more resourceful in their lives and communities.
Purchase Links:
(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)

Buy from Amazon Buy from Book Depository Buy via IndieBound Buy from AbeBooks

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ugliness and Judgment

Ugliness and Judgment: On Architecture in the Public Eye
Timothy Hyde
Princeton University Press, April 2019



Hardcover | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches | 232 pages | 70 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0691179162 | $35.00

Publisher Description:
When buildings are deemed ugly, what are the consequences? In Ugliness and Judgment, Timothy Hyde considers the role of aesthetic judgment—and its concern for ugliness—in architectural debates and their resulting social effects across three centuries of British architectural history. From eighteenth-century ideas about Stonehenge to Prince Charles’s opinions about the National Gallery, Hyde uncovers a new story of aesthetic judgment, where arguments about architectural ugliness do not pertain solely to buildings or assessments of style, but intrude into other spheres of civil society.

Hyde explores how accidental and willful conditions of ugliness—including the gothic revival Houses of Parliament, the brutalist concrete of the South Bank, and the historicist novelty of Number One Poultry—have been debated in parliamentary committees, courtrooms, and public inquiries. He recounts how architects such as Christopher Wren, John Soane, James Stirling, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe have been summoned by tribunals of aesthetic judgment. With his novel scrutiny of lawsuits for libel, changing paradigms of nuisance law, and conventions of monarchical privilege, he shows how aesthetic judgments have become entangled in wider assessments of art, science, religion, political economy, and the state.

Moving beyond superficialities of taste in order to see how architectural improprieties enable architecture to participate in social transformations,
Ugliness and Judgment sheds new light on the role of aesthetic measurement in our world.
dDAB Commentary:
With "ugliness" in its title and seven chapters devoted to the architecture of England and London over a roughly 300-year period, I figured Timothy Hyde's Ugliness and Judgment would involve some references to Roger Scruton, the British philosopher who wrote one of the few (if only) books on architectural aesthetics in philosophical terms. Scruton wrote The Aesthetics of Architecture in the late 1970s; since then he's been an outspoken critic of modern architecture and in recent years he's been in the news for his on-again, off-again, on-again position at the UK's Building Better Building Beautiful Commission, which "will advise government on how to promote and increase the use of high-quality design for new build homes and neighborhoods." Scruton can be seen as a symbol of an aesthetic, taste-based view of architecture, one that clearly favors buildings designed in Classical styles over Modern ones. But when I looked for Scruton's name in the index of Hyde's book, or checked out his list of the five best books on architecture and aesthetics, the aesthete's name is nowhere to be found. This omission hints that Ugliness and Judgment, while it discusses taste and style at length, isn't really about those things; it's about how judgments of ugliness play out in the social circumstances of architecture.

Hyde traces the interactions of taste, style, ugliness, judgment, and social circumstances — how the future of buildings, especially public ones, are debated — through seven chapters in chronological order, from Bath in the 1700s to the competition for the National Gallery Extension in London in the 1980s. Each chapter ekes out a particular angle on the overall thesis. "The Monarch," for instance, presents the National Gallery competition, in which Prince Charles famously derided the winning scheme by Ahrends Burton & Koralek as "a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend." Although his words played a part in the competition being set aside in favor of a direct commission for Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown's Postmodern extension, Hyde is interested in how Prince Charles inserted himself into the debate (at a RIBA lecture, not in an official competition forum) and convinced the greater public — of which royalty could hardly relate directly — that he spoke for them. "The Profession," the chapter that includes Mies van der Rohe's posthumously squashed Mansion House Square project, is also enlightening. Hyde presents the history of the project and the politics around it as he also focuses on the role of authorship in aesthetic judgments. These projects, in which aesthetics and taste were introduced to modify their outcomes, are indicative of how matters of aesthetics and taste are never so simple — and never just about the way a building looks.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Timothy Hyde is associate professor in the history and theory of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Constitutional Modernism: Architecture and Civil Society in Cuba, 1933–1959. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Purchase Links:
(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)

Buy from Amazon Buy from Book Depository Buy via IndieBound Buy from AbeBooks