Building Bits

Here's a couple buildings, old and new, in the news this week.

Louis I. Kahn's Esherick House (1961) in Philadelphia hits the auction block. 

[photograph by Ezra Stoller/Esto | image source]

Large for a single-person house (as it was designed), but small by today's standards, this dignified piece of architecture is supposed to fetch between $2-3 million. While this supposedly happened yesterday in an auction by Wright in Chicago yesterday, I've yet to hear or see any news on the sale; I'll post an update when known. The auction is actually May 18, not March 18. Me bad.

[photograph by Todd Eberle | image source]

Wright commissioned Todd Eberle to shoot photographs for a catalog that also features an essay by Julie V. Iovine. This aspect of the auction reminds me of the catalog I saw at the Maison Tropicale when I visited it on the Queens side of the East River, where a nearly $100 catalog was for sale. Looks like pricey, museum-quality books to accompany the big show aren't just for museums.

The Ascent at Roebling Ridge by Studio Daniel Libeskind opens on March 26.

[photographer unknown | image source]

Covington, Kentucky's attempt to upstage its neighbor across the Ohio River, Cincinnati, is a building that looks more suited to Las Vegas than a Midwestern city of roughly 50,000. This trait owes not only to its swooping form but its skin, its solid/void patterning and the mirrored glass.

[photographer unknown | image source]

Libeskind justifies the design as one that "echoes the colors of the [Covington-Cincinnati] Suspension Bridge...[and] mimics the Bridge's cables...curving to maximize the views of both the river and the surrounding hillsides." Okay, but that still doesn't distract me enough from that exterior wall -- flat as a curving pancake -- with balconies, for the most part, carelessly inserted into it. I just can't shake that Vegas feeling.

[photographer unknown | image source]


  1. This looks like an architectonica project: horrid.

  2. OMG, I was just going to say that it looked like an Architectonica project too!--and i dont mean that in a nice way. It must be true then.

  3. UNIMPRESSIVE in every way. I too, before I saw the “comments”, thought of Architectonica. Vagas…….or Miami. Perhaps it will influence new projects in the vicinity and slowly a fitting "CONTEXT" for this building will evolve.

  4. Libeskind must be stopped. The views out to the river and hills have to be better than the view the general public has.

  5. Well, at least it 'mimics' something arbitrary.

  6. thanks j.h., this is an important post.

    I remember how visitors to his Jewish museum in berlin would sit down and cry. liebeskind did pretty much every thing right in that building and put his critics to shame. he could have been a great architect. somewhere along the line, he chose not to be.


  7. Our housing market IS getting pretty bad. Other than the horrible, traffic blinding tree stump by the river, the "foreclosure" of Kahn's work is a tell tale sign. Is there any reason why Kahn's work is put on sale in this "slow down" economy?

  8. I live near this.... While the website for the condos frequently mentions the relationship to the Roebling bridge, the Ascent turns its back on the street experience. This is conveniently left out of the pictures, but as you walk (or drive) from the bus station, past the condos, to the Roebling Bridge, you are right beside a parking structure. The ascent takes every opportunity to make its mart on the skyline (which I'm actually not against) but ignores opportunities to relate to Covington itself. Too bad.

  9. What is this, some fucking marbled cheese cake straight out of the 80's?
    I suppose Libeskind is perfectly capable of convincing himself this is good. He's either like a pathological liar, believing his own lies or one hell of a scam artist.

  10. Does it snow there?

    You should see the victim he created out of our Royal Ontario Museum here in Toronto. Its a mess, and the "crystal" is now having issues with ice sliding off onto the sidewalk and street in front:

    This was the FIRST question everyone asked when the design was proposed.

    Not to mention the programming issues involved with a museum that has no walls at 90 degrees. The museum can't afford custom displays for every show.

    What an arrogant asshole.

    Now he's trying to rape one of the best examples of mid-century modern architecture we've got in the city and turn it

    from this:

    into this:

  11. Jewish museum is successful because Liebeskind did what he do best - creating bui;domg that makes people cry.

    He is still doing what he does best. With every new building he designs, there are more people crying because of his building for the very same reason - the pain they feel while experiencing the space.

    I think he is just very good at making people feel painful even when it is not necessary, or maybe he doesn't know how to design buildings without making people feel painful.

  12. in all fairness, I talked to some people involved with the project, and the developers value engineered the balconies to their current location (which induces vertigo apparently), from their previous location as voids and scars in the building. Which coupled with the stone being set on the glass instead of in the same plane, would have made a textured building slightly better cosmetically than the one that exists.

    They were value engineered out, because consumer reports show that a number one selling point on condos is a balcony, but when a owner is asked if they could exchange their balcony for square footage, would they? They do. So, make outdoor spaces that are large enough to be useable, and not just a grill stand.


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