Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Reglazing Modernism

Reglazing Modernism: Intervention Strategies for 20th-Century Icons
Angel Ayón, Uta Pottgiesser, Nathaniel Richards
Birkhäuser, October 2019



Hardcover | 8-1/2 x 11-3/4 inches | 256 pages | English | ISBN: 978-3035618457 | $X.00

Publisher's Description:
The worldwide use of building envelopes in steel and glass is one of the characteristic features of modern architecture. Many of these pre- and post-war buildings are now suffering severe defects in the building fabric, which necessitate measures to preserve the buildings. In this endeavor, aspects of architectural design, building physics, and the preservation of historic buildings play a key role. Using a selection of 20 iconic buildings in Europe and the USA, the book documents the current technological status of the three most common strategies used today: restoration, rehabilitation, and replacement. The buildings include Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright, Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Fagus Factory and Bauhaus Building by Walter Gropius.
dDAB Commentary:
Five years ago, in October 2014, the restoration of Alvar Aalto's Viipuri Library in Vyborg, Russia, won that year's World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize, which "recognizes outstanding and innovative design solutions that save modern icons." Many architects know the building for the undulating wood ceiling in the auditorium, but the multi-faceted design has a couple areas where glass is an important material: 52 skylights bring a soft, even light to the reading room and a glass wall at the lobby and stair give the library its most overt Modernist expression. Those two areas are explored in one of the twenty case studies in Reglazing Modernism, whose title clearly spells out its conservation niche. With descriptions about each project's history, the conditions of glazed areas prior to intervention, the intervention itself — categorized as Restoration, Rehabilitation, or Replacement — and with comments on the outcome (or in some cases potential future outcome), the case studies give a good overview of both the unique and shared situations under which some modern masterpieces have had to contend. But it's the drawings (a few are visible in the spreads below) that make the case studies so valuable to architects and preservationists.

About half of the buildings in Reglazing Modernism are also in my 2016 book 100 Years, 100 Buildings, indicating that these are exceptional cases, where the efforts to preserve a particular appearance were paramount and demanded much consideration on the technical side. The Restoration section illustrates projects, such as Philip Johnson's Glass House (second spread), that maintained appearance over the provision of energy efficiency; it being a house museum rather than a house made that possible. But in the case of the TWA Flight Center (now TWA Hotel), a shift from single-pane to insulated glass would have necessitated reinforcing the steel trusses supporting the angled window walls and negatively impacting their appearance; in turn, the restoration work maintained single-pane glazing throughout. The Rehabilitation section, with the De La Warr Pavilion (third spread) and a few other projects, is the shortest.

Which leaves the Replacement section and its nine projects, some of them consisting of single-pane glazing shifting to IGUs, or insulated glass units. That happened at Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum (fourth spread), though its steel framing was substantial enough it didn't change the appearance dramatically. The same cannot be said for Louis I. Kahn's Yale Art Gallery, which was renovated by Ennead Architects and involved replacing the steel window walls with bulkier aluminum framing. Given that aluminum is the default material the framing of curtain walls and window walls these days, the Kahn building might be the most suitable precedent to the preservation of historic Modernist glass buildings initially framed in steel. But the authors' recommendations at the end of the book make it clear that a lot of research and development still needs to be done to best address the conservation of modern buildings that predate the transition from steel to aluminum in the 1960s.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Angel Ayón, AIA, LEED AP, is the founder and principal of AYON Studio Architecture • Preservation, P.C. (AYON Studio) in New York City. Uta Pottgiesser, PhD, is Chair of Heritage & Technology at TU Delft in the Netherlands. Nathaniel Richards, LEED AP, is a senior project manager for JRM Construction Management and General Contracting.
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Monday, November 11, 2019

Compression

Compression
Steven Holl
Princeton Architectural Press, November 2019



Hardcover | 8-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches | 176 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1616898519 | $40.00

Publisher's Description:
Steven Holl celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of his landmark book Anchoring with Compression, a collection of thirty-five major projects from the past decade. Holl applies concepts from neuroscience, literature, social science, and philosophy to develop the idea of compression: the condensation of material and social forces to create meaningful and sustainable architecture. A diverse roster of international works includes an expansion of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston; academic facilities for Columbia University, Princeton University, and the Glasgow School of Art; urban plans; a harbor gateway for Copenhagen; and an extension of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. All demonstrate Holl's poetic attention to light, space, and water; a subtle and tactile employment of material and color; and an awareness of architecture's potential to connect people through inspiring public spaces.
dDAB Commentary:
Two months ago, after nearly ten years of planning, design, construction, and delays, the Hunters Point branch of Queen Public Library finally opened to the public. One week before the ribbon cutting attended by the mayor and other local politicians, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman praised the design by Steven Holl Architects as "among the finest and most uplifting public buildings New York has produced so far this century." That enthusiasm was echoed in the crowds that flocked to the library on the day of its opening and soon after — but it was short lived. People criticized the inaccessible shelves arrayed on steps not served by elevators; librarians moved book from those shelves to elsewhere in the compact, vertical library; they closed a portion of the children's library due to safety concerns; they added extra story time readings due to the crush of strollers in a narrow passageway by the building's single elevator; cracks were spotted in the terrazzo flooring; and there were reports of leaks. This perfect storm of problems was reported in various outlets, but just last week they were addressed in an article in the same paper as Kimmelman's pre-opening paean. If the comments on the article (667 of them, as of yesterday) are any indication, the fault lies exclusively with the architects and, in one case, the design gives architecture "a bad name."

While I can't address these complicated issues in this short review (though I will say, Mr. Kimmelman, it reinforces the argument for architectural critiques to come after a building has been "broken in" by users rather than scooping other outlets), the timing of the news with Steven Holl's latest monograph — the fifth in a series that began with Anchoring thirty years ago — is unfortunate (it comes out tomorrow), particularly since a diagram of the building graces Compression. The slim square book follows the format established with Anchoring, though if one looks at the content of both books side by side it's clear Holl's architecture has evolved greatly, veering far into the sculptural realm. If anything, Hunters Point is timid compared to other recent projects (from 2005 to 2018), many of them winning competition entries that must have been designed to impress. The writing in Compression also expresses the issues Holl has focused on in his career: light, the senses, place, concept — clearly formal considerations. It's hard, in the light of the PR disaster hitting Holl's office, not to be skeptical of his description of the library as "an entirely public building" or other more poetic ways of describing it and other projects' forms and spaces. But I think Holl and his team are creative and will solve these issues alongside Queens Public Library, which commissioned the building and stuck with the architect for nine years, from early concepts to the completion of the beautiful, if flawed, building. In the meantime, it's probably best not to display Compression too prominently in the library.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Steven Holl is founder and principal of Steven Holl Architects, with offices in New York and Beijing. Considered one of America's preeminent architects, he has been awarded the Praemium Imperiale (2014), the American Institute of Architects' Gold Medal (2012), and the Royal Institute of British Architects' Jencks Award (2010).
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Friday, November 08, 2019

Lair

Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains
Chad Oppenheim, Andrea Gollin (Editors)
Tra Publishing, November 2019



Hardcover | 9-1/4 x 13 inches | 296 pages | 200+ illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1732297869 | $75.00

Publisher's Description:
From Atlantis in The Spy Who Loved Me to Nathan Bateman's ultra-modern abode in Ex Machina, big-screen villains tend to live in architectural splendor. The villain’s lair, as popularized in many of our favorite movies, is much more than where the megalomaniac goes to get some rest. Instead, the homes of the villains are places where evil is plotted and where, often, the hero is tested and must prove him/herself. Like evil itself, the abodes of movie villains are frequently compelling and seductive. From a design standpoint, they tend to be stunning, sophisticated, envy-inducing expressions of the warped drives and desires of their occupants. Lair, the first title in Tra Publishing's Design + Film series, celebrates and considers several iconic villain’s lairs from recent film history. The book, strikingly designed in silver ink on black paper, explores the architectural design of these structures through architectural illustrations and renderings, photographs, essays, film analyses, interviews, and more. Editorial contributors include Chad Oppenheim, Michael Mann, Sir Christopher Frayling, Joseph Rosa, Amy Murphy, Andrea Gollin, and Phillip Valys. Architectural illustrations and renderings are by Carlos Fueyo. Highlights include interviews with production designers, directors, and other industry professionals such as Ralph Eggleston, Mark Digby, Richard Donner, Roger Christian, David Scheunemann, and Gregg Henry, along with excerpts from an oral history with the late architect John Lautner. From futuristic fantasies to deathtrap-laden hives, from dwellings in space to those under the sea, pop culture and architecture join forces in these outlandish homes and in Lair, which appreciates and celebrates all things villain. Lair features villains’ homes from fifteen films, including Dr. Strangelove, The Incredibles, Blade Runner 2049, and You Only Live Twice.
dDAB Commentary:
Some years ago I was browsing the books and zines at Printed Matter in Chelsea and came across Benjamin Critton's Evil People in Modernist Homes in Popular Films, a "serious but lighthearted investigation of the representation of Modernist architecture in popular film." Being an architect who loves films and discussions of architecture in films, I couldn't resist buying it. Printed on large newsprint, the zine's lightheartedness comes primarily from its design: a palette of yellow and pink that even extends to the texts (pink on white) that include Joseph Rosa's "Tearing Down the House: Modern Homes in the Movies" from the 2000 book Architecture and Film. With only around a dozen books and other publications exploring the relationship between architecture and cinema, I was excited about the release of Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains, which obviously treads a similar ground to Evil People. Yet where the nearly ten-year-old zine balanced evil with colorful lightheartedness, Lair goes all in and puts its fifteen studies of villains' hideouts in silver ink on black paper: The medium and the message are wound tightly together.

Besides the inclusion of that same Joseph Rosa essay, additional comparisons between Lair and Evil People are pointless, since Lair delves deeply into the shared subject but broadens it to encapsulate a variety of settings beyond modernist homes: a hollowed-out volcano, a subterranean grotto, a submersible laboratory shaped like a "metallic octopus," even a moon-sized weapon. Furthermore, accompanying the descriptions and documentation of fifteen films — ranging from 1960s James Bond films to the recent blockbuster Blade Runner 2049 — are interviews with people involved with the production design for some of the films, an excerpt from an old interview with John Lautner (his houses have been lived in by film villains more than any other architect), and a conversation between Chad Oppenheim and Michael Mann, who set his Miami Vice movie in one of Oppenheim's Miami houses. These interviews add depth to the book, but it's the explorations of the films that steal the show (sorry, I couldn't resist that phrase). There are stills from the movies and a consistent structure with descriptions of their plots, villains, and lairs, but there are also drawings (more accurately illustrations and renderings created from 3d computer models) that depict the lairs in ways movies cannot: in section, as cutaway perspectives, as good 'ol floor plans. These illustrations by Carlos Fueyo make this special book — with its large silver-on-black format and highly tactile paper — that much more beautiful.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Chad Oppenheim is a Miami-based architect whose work has been praised for its ability to transform the prosaic into the poetic. ... In 1999, he founded Oppenheim Architecture (Miami, Basel, New York), which has garnered global recognition for largescale urban architecture, hotels and resorts, private residences, interiors, and furnishings. Andrea Gollin is an editor, publishing consultant, and writer. She has edited dozens of books and exhibitions catalogues, including Robert Winthrop Chanler: Discovering the Fantastic (The Monacelli Press). She is a graduate of Princeton University and received an MFA from the writing program at University of Virginia.
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Thursday, November 07, 2019

Michael Heizer

Michael Heizer: The Once and Future Monuments
William L. Fox
The Monacelli Press, September 2019



Hardcover| 6-1/2 x 9 inches | 232 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1580935203 | $45.00

Publisher's Description:
Michael Heizer is among the greatest, and often least accessible, American artists. As one of the last living figures who launched the Land Art movement, his legacy of works that are literally and metaphorically monumental has an incalculable influence on the world of sculpture and environmental art. But his seclusion in the remote Nevada desert, as well as his notorious obduracy, have resulted in significant gaps in our critical understanding. Michael Heizer: The Once and Future Monuments spans the breadth of Heizer’s career, uniquely combining fieldwork, personal narrative, and biographical research to create the first major assessment in years of this titan of American art.

Author William L. Fox, founding director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art, has alternately been a sponsor, advocate, and critic of Heizer’s work for decades. Fox’s understanding of the artist’s history and connection to landscape, his time spent with Heizer at the remote ranch where Heizer is finishing his magnum opus – the mile-long sculpture
City – and his access to some of Heizer’s key associates give him a unique position from which to discuss the artist’s work. Fox has also made numerous site visits to Heizer’s work–including early pieces in the Nevada desert now largely lost to the elements–to correct the often inconsistent accounts of their locations. Last, Fox imparts a crucial new understanding of Heizer’s work by elaborating on the artist’s bond with his father, the famed archaeologist and cultural ecologist Robert Heizer, who enlisted his son on important digs in Mexico and Peru, providing the young man with an appreciation of site, landscape, and geology that would thoroughly inform his work. Michael Heizer: The Once and Future Monuments is a long overdue addition to the critical and biographical literature of this major figure in American art.
dDAB Commentary:
In my review of James Crump's 2015 film Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art, I rhetorically questioned why the documentary did not include much footage of Michael Heizer's famous Double Negative, while artworks by Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt were presented visually at some length. At the time I did not know how controlling Heizer, now in his mid-70s, was about the documentation and presentation of his artworks in words and images. His unwillingness to allow all but drone footage of Double Negative must have frustrated Crump, though given that the footage is from the air rather than on the ground I'm guessing Heizer didn't even have a say in its use. Likewise, Heizer's controlling nature means The Once and Future Monuments has very few images (it led me to omit spreads in this post), although the ones included are quite interesting, such as artist Shawn Patrick Landis's Air Check installed inside Double Negative in 2003. What's left are the words of William L. Fox, a writer who got to know Heizer and his controlling nature personally, followed the artist's wishes about exposure in previous books, pissed off Heizer regardless, and then swore off writing anything else about him and his art. The Once and Future Monuments is proof that Fox eventually changed his position, and fans of Heizer should be happy, for it straightens out many errors in histories about Heizer and delves into the the artist and his artwork deeper than anything I've come across.

I should say that Fox's words aren't technically the only things accompanying the scant few images in this book. It has a trilogy of "Deiro Transcripts": documents from the archive of Guido Robert Deiro, who served as the "all-around fixer" for Heizer and Walter De Maria, artist of the famous Lightning Field, for around thirty years. In 2009 Deiro donated his archive to the Center for Art + Environment, where Fox was and is director. That donation, along with Crump's film, helped convince Fox to write The Once and Future Monuments, thereby having, respectively, access to information on the reclusive artist and a precedent for creating something without his participation. Part criticism, part biography, part guidebook even, The Once and Future Monuments is an enjoyable read, jumping around in space and time to portray Heizer and his most important artworks. Yet I can't shake wanting to see the art being discussed. Yes, "this is the age of the internet," as Fox writes in the "note about images or lack thereof" that starts the book, but I'm a firm believer in the power of illustrated books, of words and images on the page together, not words on the page and images on the screen. Even though Heizer makes such a book close to impossible, Fox has pulled off the next best thing. As long as you don't go in expecting a visual feast, you'll be pleased with Fox's revealing portrait of an important artist.
Spreads:
N/A

Author Bio:
William L. Fox is founding Director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art and has variously been called an art critic, science writer, and cultural geographer.
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Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Between East and West

Between East and West: A Gulf
Muneerah Alrabe (Editor)
Actar, March 2019



Paperback | 8-1/2 x 10-1/2 inches | 240 pages | English/Arabic | ISBN: 978-1945150784 | $34.95

Publisher's Description:
Between East and West: A Gulf looks towards the contested hydrography of the Arabian/Persian Gulf and proposes a new masterplan for the region.
In an area of physical, religious, and political division, the publication tells the story of the Gulf ’s islands and the possibilities they hold for a joint territorial project.

Hundreds of islands dot the waters between the Arabian and Persian shores. An afterthought in the political maneuverings of their respective coasts, tell an alternative narrative to the one which drives conceptions of the region. They represent a possibility greater than spaces of political contestation and hesitant demarcation. These islands are the sites of identity in formation, places of experimentation and architectural invention. Their historical roles were as varied as places of leisure, spirituality, planning, war, exile, and health.

The book was an accompaniment to the third Kuwaiti participation at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2016 with a pavilion that shares the same title.
dDAB Commentary:
I'm a big fan of books that accompany exhibitions. When I'm actually able to see an exhibition at a museum or some other venue, the catalog serves as a souvenir but also a means to absorb information and points of view I missed in what was most likely a too-brief visit. For visits I don't see in person, books on exhibitions enable me to reap something from the enormous amounts of time and effort that went into both the exhibition and catalog. In both cases, these books extend the life of an exhibition well beyond its initial run.

The Venice Architecture Biennale must produce the most catalogs of any architecture exhibitions. There's the massive book that goes along with the main exhibition (in the case of Rem Koolhaas's Elements of Architecture, the publication was repackaged in a new design four years after the first), catalogs accompanying the many collateral events around the city and those for the numerous national pavilions. Some of the last two are available for free during the Biennale (I have a hard time resisting those, though my back and luggage require me to be picky), though Kuwait opted for a Koolhaas approach and released a second edition: Between East and West documents the country's 2016 pavilion but came out two years later.

Now three years later, I'll admit I didn't recall Kuwait's 2016 pavilion, partly because it was squeezed into the Arsenale alongside other countries that don't have expensive purpose-built pavilions in the Giardini, and partly the Biennale overwhelms, making it hard to absorb most of it. So the bilingual catalog is helpful in jarring my memory. It is beautifully designed, with a silver cover, narrow glossy pages in color inserted among the matte b/w pages, and lots of appealing visual information throughout. The curators clearly embraced the direction of the 2016 Biennale directed by Alejandro Aravena and produced a socially and politically charged exhibition. But Kuwait, which just started participating in 2012, didn't return last year. Flipping through this catalog now, I can't help wonder if they'll be back — and back in form — next year.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Muneerah Alrabe recently completed her SMArchS degree in the Department of Architecture through the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University and has professional experience in the field of architecture and design in Kuwait and Germany.
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Monday, November 04, 2019

The Theatre of Work

The Theatre of Work
Clive Wilkinson
Frame Publishers, November 2019



Hardcover | 9-1/2 x 11 inches | 280 pages | English | ISBN: 978-9492311368 | $49.00

Publisher's Description:
Architect and writer Clive Wilkinson examines global developments in the workplace and proposes innovative principles for a design process that will bring the concept of ‘work as theatre’ to fruition.

The modern workplace has evolved to provide better technology and more amenities for employees, but what advances have been made in building truly creative communities that spark creativity and collaboration? Is the 21st century office performing at its peak?

The Theatre of Work proposes an evolution of the relationship between office users and the spaces they occupy. As work processes and community relationships evolve, new collaborative synergies within the workplace are created. The interplay between space and people offers a new kind of theatre where parallels with the archetypal theatre of the street and the marketplace occur. This emerging new workspace should amplify and celebrate the activity of work and of human community, and in the process, become vital and compelling theatre.

In defining this new office landscape, architect and writer Clive Wilkinson examines global developments in workplace thinking, historical antecedents, the performance touch-points for the new office, and proposes seven humanistic principles that will inform a holistic design process that can bring this concept of theatre to fruition. Each of these principles is demonstrated through case studies of the work of his renowned design studio, Clive Wilkinson Architects (CWa), with rich iconography, diagrammatic strategy and contextual ingenuity. The outcome of this process, with its multiple performative layers, effectively promotes elevating a corporate brief of basic needs and goals to a profoundly human-centered presentation of ‘work as theatre’.
dDAB Commentary:
Clive Wilkinson was in the right place at the right time. Having grown up in South Africa and worked in London in the 1980s, the architect moved to Los Angeles in 1990 after a short stint in Australia. Landing in LA, he started at Frank Gehry's office when the firm was working on the Chiat/Day building — the one with the giant binoculars at the entrance — and was responsible for the advertising firm's (now TBWA\Chiat\Day) offices inside. Wilkinson started his eponymous firm one year later, just when the country was getting out of a recession and therefore building offices. In Los Angeles, this meant renovating old industrial spaces into workplaces with a mix of open plans, enclosed offices, playful spaces, and lots of exposed structure. Although Wilkinson isn't single-handedly responsible for the popularity of these types of offices and their explosion into other global cities, he has certainly been one of the most creative architects focused on workplace design in the decades since.

The Theatre of Work is Wilkinson's way "to dive into the complexity with which we work," per his Preface, "and try to better understand what it is and where it is heading." He does this in the book's two parts: "How did we get here?," a history of work over the last few hundred years; and "Where are we going?," a presentation of fourteen Clive Wilkinson Architects (CWa) office designs in seven pairs joined by particular themes. In between is the Intermezzo, "What did we learn?," which captures how Wilkinson approached the book as a tool for discovery rather than simply a means of sharing stories. Although the first part is a bit long and will probably be skipped by people who just want to dive into the CWa projects, it illuminates how Wilkinson sees the interior work environment like a city, framed by Kevin Lynch's influential The Image of the City. In turn, such offices as TBWA\Chiat\Day (done a few years after the design at Gehry's office) were designed with well-articulated landmarks, nodes, paths, and so forth. Three of the offices I featured on this blog before it changed to books (Mother London, One Shelley Street, and Barbarian Group) are included in The Theatre of Work, presented with plans, sketches, and renderings on top of the usual photographs. All these years later, my favorite is still Mother London, where a path is turned into a communal desk that snakes around the office — an innovative design feature that helps spark innovation in Mother's employees. 
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Clive Wilkinson is an architect, designer, writer and strategist with expertise in the application of urban design thinking to interior design, specifically in workplace and educational communities. His practice, Clive Wilkinson Architects, was established in Los Angeles in 1991 and is an acknowledged global leader in workplace design.
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