Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Architecture Inside-Out

Architecture Inside-Out: Understanding How Buildings Work
Written by John Zukowsky, Illustrated by Robbie Polley
Rizzoli, February 2018



Hardcover | 10 x 10 inches | 304 pages | English | ISBN: 978-0847861804 | $35.00

Publisher Description:
Taking readers behind architecture’s facades and finishes, this charmingly illustrated book explores how some of the most important buildings in the world were constructed. Specially commissioned isometric drawings present the essential structural elements of the world’s masterpiece buildings that are not visible to the naked eye. These illustrations are displayed alongside plans, details, and photographs, all of which are clear and accessible, yet accurate and elegant enough to satisfy the most discerning eye.

This fascinating book explores the thinking and expertise behind architects’ designs and offers a means by which to better understand buildings already visited as well as those on the must-see list. Selections range from domestic structures such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and skyscrapers such as the Chrysler Building, to iconic classics such as the Louvre and Barcelona’s famed Sagrada Familia Cathedral. The buildings have been chosen for their importance and interest, their role in the development of architectural thinking, and the structural secrets that intricate 3-D drawings can reveal.
dDAB Commentary:
When I was child, some of my favorite books were ones that explained "how things work" through words and illustrations. A few of the titles I grew up with were put out by Reader's Digest, a couple of which I still own. The best parts of these types of books are the cutaway illustrations of buildings and other constructions that enabled modern people to see, for instance, inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. These childhood books with x-ray-like illustrations come to mind when reading Architecture Inside-Out, which uses cutaway illustrations to explain fifty buildings, ranging from the Parthenon in Athens and the Colosseum in Rome to numerous structures this century, including the Reichstag in Berlin and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Most of the buildings are iconic and have been written about in plenty of books already, but the combination of John Zukowsky's words and Robbie Polley's illustrations make this book different and especially helpful for architecture students or high school students thinking about going to architecture school.

The fifty buildings are separated into five chapters based on typology: Public Life, Monuments, Arts and Education, Living, and Worship. Each building gets two or three spreads, with photographs accompanying the words and drawings. Depending on the number of pages, the buildings have either one or two large illustrations by Polley, sometimes with details extracted from them to hone in on particular details and explain them further with captions. The cutaway isometrics and occasional perspective sections or exploded axonometric have the advantage of revealing a building's structure, which is particularly helpful when it is hidden behind a ceiling or some other surface, as in Zaha Hadid's London Aquatics Centre and Le Corbusier's Notre-Dame-du-Haut Chapel. Polley, who draws by hand over base drawings from a computer (using a light box), admits that "sketching ... any object makes you focus, look harder, and therefore better understand it." For just that reason, I'd recommend that young readers do what I did with my childhood illustrations: trace Polley's drawings with pencil or ink on trace paper. Looking at them is one thing, but drawing them -- even as a copy -- is to understand the meaning and representation of each line. 
Images:


Author Bio:
John Zukowsky is an architectural and design historian with more than four decades of experience. While curator of architecture for the Art Institute of Chicago from 1978 to 2004, he organized a number of award-winning exhibitions accompanied by major books. Robbie Polley is an architectural illustrator with more than twenty-five years of experience. His drawings have been featured in thirty books.
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Monday, March 25, 2019

Studio 804

Studio 804: Design Build. Expanding the Pedagogy of Architectural Education
Dan Rockhill with David Sain
Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers, October 2018



Hardcover w/slipcase | 8-1/2 x 11 inches | 416 pages | 645 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1946226211 | $65.00

Publisher Description:
Founded in 1995 by Dan Rockhill, Studio 804 is a non-profit organization and a full-year design studio for graduates that finds its momentum at the intersection of contemporary architecture’s most topical concerns: sustainability, affordability and education. The studio has produced 23 projects to date, including 10 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum level buildings and 3 Passive House certified projects. These projects support a rich mix of uses: spaces for both private and communal use and engagement; spaces for leisure and for learning.
dDAB Commentary:
At some point during undergraduate architecture school at Kansas State University, a professor took our studio from Manhattan (yes, the Little Apple) to Lawrence to see some projects by architect Dan Rockhill, a professor at the University of Kansas (KU). The house that made the strongest impression on me was the Shimomura/Davidson-Hues House, which had a butterfly roof and a huge scupper feeding water into a large steel funnel in the middle of the driveway. It was the opposite of traditional suburban curb appeal: it was industrious, idiosyncratic, and unselfconscious. Beyond its appearance, we learned that Rockhill and Associates also built the house, combining prefab, off-the-shelf, salvaged, and custom components throughout. It was my introduction to Rockhill, though little did I know around that time (ca. 1995) Rockhill was developing what would become one of the most famous and influential design-build programs in the United States: Studio 804. In it, students in the last year of the Master of Architecture program at KU spend one year designing and building a house or some other structure in or near Lawrence. Like Rockhill's own practice, the students incorporate prefab, sustainability, and custom construction.

Studio 804: Design Build tells the story of the Rockhill-led program from the mid-1990s to 2018, from a modest corrugated roof over a stone ruin to a sexy glass-box house that would be at home in an issue of Dwell magazine. In between are around 20 projects grouped into a half-dozen chapters that capture the thematic strands occupying Studio 804 at various times, such as the modular homes spanning 2004 to 2007, the ambitious educational facilities built in the first half of our current decade, and the net-zero houses occupying them in recent years. A couple special chapters focus on how Studio 804 operates and the "pivotal" 547 Arts Center in Greensburg, the small Kansas town nearly entirely destroyed by a tornado in 2007. The LEED Platinum building, the first built as part of the recovery efforts in Greensburg, shifted Studio 804 to building types beyond single-family houses and made their sustainable goals more ambitious.

The 547 Arts Center and the other projects in Studio 804: Design Build are described in the first person by Rockhill, based on interviews with David Sain, a longtime colleague at Rockhill and Associates and KU. The narrative texts are conversational yet highly detailed, touching on, among many other things, how each project was designed and built. These texts don't leave out the numerous stumbles encountered along the way, be it students having to go to city hall to obtain a PO number for every item purchased when building a house for the Lawrence Housing Authority to the perils of building in Greensburg, where constant winds blew sand and debris and a concrete truck tipped into an unseen hole in the ground. But in the end it's the many positives of Studio 804 that come to the fore in the pages of this long-overdue book.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Dan Rockhill is the J L Constant Distinguished Professor of Architecture at the University of Kansas. In addition to the varied work of Rockhill and Associates he directs the KU graduate school program Studio 804. David Sain has worked with Dan since 1988, [he] teaches Building Technology at the University of Kansas and helps with Studio 804 when needed.
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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Space, Time and Architecture

Space, Time and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition
Sigfried Giedion
Harvard University Press, February 2009



Paperback | 7 x 9-1/2 inches | 960 pages | 550 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0674030473 | $53.50

Publisher Description:
A milestone in modern thought, Space, Time and Architecture has been reissued many times since its first publication in 1941 and translated into half a dozen languages. In this revised edition of Sigfried Giedion’s classic work, major sections have been added and there are 81 new illustrations.

The chapters on leading contemporary architects have been greatly expanded. There is new material on the later development of Frank Lloyd Wright and the more recent buildings of Walter Gropius, particularly his American Embassy in Athens. In his discussion of Le Corbusier, Mr. Giedion provides detailed analyses of the Carpenter Center at Harvard University, Le Corbusier’s only building in the United States, and his Priory of La Tourette near Lyons. There is a section on his relations with his clients and an assessment of his influence on contemporary architecture, including a description of the Le Corbusier Center in Zurich (designed just before his death), which houses his works of art. The chapters on Mies van der Rohe and Alvar Aalto have been brought up to date with examples of their buildings in the sixties. There is an entirely new chapter on the Danish architect Jørn Utzon, whose work, as exemplified in his design for the Sydney Opera House, Mr. Giedion considers representative of post–World War II architectural concepts.

A new essay, “Changing Notions of the City,” traces the evolution of the structure of the city throughout history and examines current attempts to deal with urban growth, as shown in the work of such architects as José Luis Sert, Kenzo Tange, and Fumihiko Maki. Mr. Sert’s Peabody Terrace is discussed as an example of the interlocking of the collective and individual spheres. Finally, the conclusion has been enlarged to include a survey of the limits of the organic in architecture.
dDAB Commentary:
Recently reading Reto Geiser's excellent Giedion and America prompted me not only to pull down my copy of Sigfried Giedion's Space, Time and Architecture from my shelf, but also to swap my musty fourth edition from 1962 for a cleaner copy of the revised and enlarged fifth edition, which was released in 1967 (one year before Giedion's death) and was printed most recently by Harvard University Press in 2009, in paperback form. Originally published in 1941, Space, Time and Architecture came out of a series of lectures the Swiss art historian delivered at Harvard in 1938 and 1939. The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures enabled Giedion to explore the contemporary architecture of (primarily) Europe through an examination of historical precedents. Giedion saw history as "not a compilation of facts, but an insight into a moving process of life." By "examining certain specific events intensively...in the manner of a close-up," he honed in on a "space-time" conception of architecture that had Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, and (by the fifth edition) Jørn Utzon as its poster boys. CIAM (the International Congress for Modern Architecture) was also an important player, though in regards to city planning, of which Giedion devotes three chapters, or about 170 pages of his nearly 900-page tome. Giedion was good friends with Gropius and served, with his longtime colleague Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, who was integral to the production of Space, Time and Architecture, as CIAM secretary; meaning his classic book was influenced by, and an extension of, the network he maintained before and after World War II, both in Europe and the United States.

One aspect of Giedion's dated yet long-influential masterpiece that Geiser delves into at length in his book is its layout. Before Space, Time and Architecture's initial publication on the leading edge of WWII, architecture and other illustrated books separated text and illustrations, often the first coming before and referencing the latter. (This was also the case after the war, if a book such as Henry LaFarge's Lost Treasures of Europe from 1946 is any indication; it has 30 pages of text that function as captions to the 427 photographs that follow.) Giedion's integration of text (including footnotes and marginalia) and images in a seamless flow throughout his book would go on to become the norm in architecture books, displacing the traditional separation of words and images that was done as much out of habit as out of the limitations of editors and printers. In this regard, Space, Time and Architecture, though not the only book taking this approach, must have been shocking at the time both for its content and its appearance. Giedion's book also incorporates the juxtaposition of seemingly disparate images side by side, something he did in his lectures -- something he used to further elucidate his "space-time" arguments. 
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Author Bio:
Sigfried Giedion was the first secretary-general of the International Congress of Modern Architecture. He taught at the University of Zurich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University, where he became chairman of the Graduate School of Design.
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Friday, March 22, 2019

Platform 11

Platform 11: Setting the Table
Esther Mira Bang, Lane Raffaldini Rubin, Enrique Aureng Silva (Editors)
Harvard University GSD & Actar, November 2018



Paperback | 7-1/2 x 10-1/2 inches | 363 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1948765107 | $34.95

Publisher Description:
Platform represents a year in the life of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Produced annually, this compendium highlights a selection of work from the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and design, and design engineering. It exposes a rich and varied pedagogical culture committed to shaping the future of design. Documenting projects, research, events, exhibitions, and more, Platform offers a curated view into the emerging topics, techniques, and dispositions within and beyond the Harvard GSD.

In
Setting the Table, the first student-led installment of the series, editors Esther Mira Bang, Lane Raffaldini Rubin, and Enrique Aureng Silva assemble a diverse body of work and cut it up—reinterpreting, rearranging, and ultimately composing a poetry revealed in each retelling.
dDAB Commentary:
Traditionally, the end-of-year journals that come out of architecture schools – be it Harvard GSD or some other university, Ivy League or otherwise – partition the various projects, lectures, publications, and other output produced by students, professors, and visiting academics. So thesis projects by Master of Architecture students, for instance, are in one place, while third-year landscape architecture projects are in another place. Lectures and other events are often stuffed into the back matter, so as not to distract from the student work. This sort of thing is the norm, allowing certain types of projects to be found easily and enabling outsiders to see a school's output as a gradient: from first to last year, from introductory to mastery. But architecture school isn't so well ordered. Classes may move in such a direction, but the activities taking place within them can border on the chaotic, no matter how much order takes place behind the scenes or how much structure is instilled in students so they get their work done on time.

Collage is one way to capture the lovely chaos of architecture school, and that is the approach Esther Mira Bang, Lane Raffaldini Rubin, and Enrique Aureng Silva take in the latest year-end Platform for Harvard GSD. The book starts with aerial photographs of architectural models assembled on tables: Projects with no relationship to other sit side by side, juxtaposed in a manner that reflects the structure of the book and the mixing of students within the famous "trays" of GSD's Gund Hall. Studio projects, lectures, exhibitions, and publications are given one or two pages, following one after the other in apparently random order. There are chapters – sixteen of them – but they exist to break down the book's nearly 400 pages, serve as canvases for collaged poems drawn from student projects, and allow for some variety, such as with the inverted pages in the "Turntable" chapter (what I thought was a printing error at first glance). The models, drawings, and renderings throughout are very much of their moment, with a liberal use of color, a heavy reliance on Photoshop, and an embrace of Postmodernism. Ultimately the imagery expresses the always high design quality that comes out of Harvard GSD.
Spreads (via Issuu):


Author Bio:
Esther Mira Bang, Lane Raffaldini Rubin, and Enrique Aureng Silva are the first students to direct the editorial work for an issue of Harvard GSD's annual Platform series.
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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Giedion and America

Giedion and America: Repositioning the History of Modern Architecture
Reto Geiser
gta Verlag, October 2018



Hardcover | 7 x 9-3/4 inches | 400 pages | 200 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-3856763770 | $85.00

Publisher Description:
Paradoxically, Swiss art historian and architecture critic Sigfried Giedion (1888–1968) would only consolidate his reputation as one of the most influential architectural historians of the twentieth century far from his homeland, in America. In his study of Giedion’s life and work Reto Geiser foregrounds the formative character of Giedion’s extended stays in the United States and their role as an inspiring laboratory to propel his scholarship. By challenging the presentation of a continuous line of developments, and revealing the ruptures and contradictions within Giedion’s work, Geiser questions a heroic account of modern architecture, turning instead to the less ideological and frequently overlooked facets of Giedion’s oeuvre. The book argues that, although Giedion’s position in between two cultural spheres created discontinuities in his work, it also facilitated a mutual exchange between the architectural impresario and his North American peers and thereby helped to shape the development and reception of the modern project on either side of the Atlantic.
dDAB Commentary:
Sigfried Giedion is best known to architects for Space, Time and Architecture, which was first published in 1941 and revised as late as 1967, one year before the Swiss historian died. The book, still in print, sees Giedion tracing historical developments in architecture, technology, science and planning toward a new "space-time" conception of then-contemporary architecture. It was a book I read in college in the mid-1990s for a modern architectural history class, but by then the book was, not surprisingly, a dated, historical artifact rather than a text of ongoing relevance. Regardless, I really enjoyed reading it and still have a copy of the fourth edition, from 1962. The first page inside the book, even before the title page, simply says, "The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures for 1938-1939." As part of the Charles Eliot Norton Professorship in Poetry, the Swiss art historian gave six lectures on architecture at Harvard University. A couple curious things arise from this simple fact: Giedion crafted the book in the United States and he did it outside of a school of architecture. Reto Geiser, an associate professor at Rice University, hones in on Giedion's years in America to examine how his work was influenced by the place but also had an impact on educators there and back home.

As a fan of Giedion's class and of architectural history in general, I find Geiser's book fascinating -- and beautiful: it is carefully designed, illustrated, and bound, and is printed on a really nice lightweight paper. It is an extremely deep dive into a person and time (1930s to 1960s) courtesy of what must have been years spent by the author in the archives of Harvard GSD, ETH Zurich, and other institutions with materials related to Giedion. Geiser's accounts of the Swiss historian's trips to and from America (he did not stay permanently in the US, unlike Walter Gropius and others at the time) vividly capture the relationships and events that led to Space, Time and Architecture, as well as the later Mechanization Takes Command and The Eternal Present. He presents the bad with the good: the friction and the uneasy academic relationships alongside the trips and other experiences that were integral parts of Giedion's output. Geiser acknowledges the importance roles of the women in Giedion's life, particularly Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, who worked with Giedion for twenty years, and his wife, Carola Giedion-Welcker, a capable art historian in her own right. Ultimately Geiser finds the secret to Giedion in "in between" conditions that structure the book -- In Between Languages, In Between Approaches, In Between Academies, In Between Disciplines -- situations that were born from his trans-Atlantic trips before and after World War II.
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Author Bio:
Reto Geiser is a designer and scholar of modern architecture with a focus on the intersections between architecture, pedagogy, and media. He is the Gus Wortham Assistant Professor at the Rice University School of Architecture where he teaches history, theory, and design.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mid-Century Modern Architecture Travel Guide

Mid-Century Modern Architecture Travel Guide: East Coast USA
Sam Lubell, photographs by Darren Bradley
Phaidon, October 2018



Flexicover | 5 x 7-1/4 inches | 376 pages | 255 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0714876627 | $35.00

Publisher Description:
Featuring architecture by some of the biggest Mid-Century names, including Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Eero Saarinen, and Philip Johnson, each of the more than 250 buildings is located on a regional map. The book includes all the additional information needed to find and visit each building. Its cool and functional design makes this book a coveted Modernist-style object in itself.

Including icons from The Met Breuer to the fabulous beach houses of Fire Island, private homes in Connecticut, Manhattan skyscrapers, and the Tropical Modern residences of Sarasota, Florida, it is a must-have guide to one of the most fertile and lesser-known regions for the development of Mid-Century Modern architecture. From the publisher of
Mid-Century Modern Architecture Travel Guide: West Coast USA.
dDAB Commentary:
This is the second book in what I hope is a three- or four-book series of mid-century modern architecture, written by Sam Lubell and photographed by Darren Bradley. The first book, Mid-Century Modern Architecture Travel Guide: West Coast USA, was published in 2016, two years before its East Coast sibling. In my review of West Coast USA, I honed in on the design of the book, the chronology of the buildings included in it (ranging from 1921 to 1978), and the book's geographic structure. With the same players involved, including Phaidon, and a consistent format, the same could be said about East Coast USA (though the rectangles on the cover and chapter intros remind me of a John Ronan school rather than an album cover). But given that I have lived on the East Coast for a dozen years, I'm more inclined here to focus on the content relative to buildings I've visited and the how successfully the book spurs me to visit places I haven't.

East Coast USA has over 250 buildings in 5 color-coded geographic chapters: New England, New York & New Jersey, Mid-Atlantic, South, and Florida. The place I'm most familiar with, New York City, has just over 30 buildings, ranging from a school in the Bronx by Marcel Breuer to the "new" TWA Hotel by Eero Saarinen at JFK. It's a solid selection that has obvious choices (Mies's Seagram Building) but also lesser known mid-century gems (William Berger's Tribeca Synagogue); the same could be said about the whole book. There are a few projects in Queens, the borough I call home, including the New York State Pavilion by Philip Johnson, which was built for the 1964 World's Fair, has languished as a ruin but has gotten attention by preservationists in recent years. Curioiusly, the book's accessibility data indicates it is open to the public and has a free entrance; visitors can walk around the structure (it sits in a large park) but cannot get inside it. I'm not highlighting this here to point out an error – it's not really an error, given that it's not private and doesn't require admission. Rather, those points of data are not always so black and white as "yes" and "no," and readers should be wary of starting a road trip only to find that this or that building is only partially visible or accessible. Lubell's text does refer to the accessibility and visibility of buildings, particularly single-family houses, in the introduction. Likewise, the book includes a helpful section with visitor information at the back of the book, something people should use before they grab this book and hit the road.

Where would I most want to go with this book? To name just a couple things near NYC, there are churches by Victor Lundy and others in Connecticut, while farther north of the city are the numerous Kahn buildings I've yet to see in person. While I wouldn't need this guide to know about or plan a visit to, for instance, Kahn's Exeter Library, the inclusion of lesser known buildings in its pages means I would see some other interesting buildings on the way. I'd also use East Coast USA to navigate parts of Florida, the state my parents have called home just about as long as I've called NYC home. The last chapter has nearly 50 buildings there, clustered in Jacksonville, Orlando, Sarasota, and Miami. I've remained ignorant to modern architecture in Florida over the years, so Lubell and Bradley's book is perfect for me. It highlights buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, Paul Rudolph, and Victor Lundy, but also a whole lot of obscure stuff – buildings that express the state's distinctive strand of mid-century modernism. Therein lies the appeal of the books in this series: its mix of familiar buildings by famous names and quirky buildings (Tiki anyone?) by forgotten architects captures the nuances of the period and makes the argument for their continued use and preservation.
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Author Bio:
Sam Lubell has written eight books about architecture, including Mid-Century Modern Architecture Travel Guide: West Coast USA. He is a Contributing Editor at The Architect’s Newspaper and writes for The New York Times, Wallpaper, ... and other publications. Darren Bradley is a Southern California-based architectural photographer, active in the preservation of Mid-Century Modern architecture.
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