Sunday, May 20, 2012

Architect Docs: Kondylis Vs. Portman

Recently I watched documentaries on a couple architects -- Costas Kondylis and John Portman -- whom I'd least expect to receive the treatment. Which begged the question, "Why?" Perhaps the answer lies in "How?" So in lieu of straightforward reviews of each film, below is a side-by-side comparison (actually a top-bottom one, given Blogger's limited formatting capabilities) of Building Stories and John Portman: A Life of Building.

Running Time:
Kondylis: 58 minutes
Portman: 52 minutes

Kondylis: Toni Comas
Portman: Ben Loeterman

Kondylis: Stuart Elliott
Portman: Ben Loeterman

Interview footage with architect:
Kondylis: No, but actor portrayal in one scene; some audio and footage of architect looking at his buildings
Portman: Yes, footage of interviews as well as candid meetings, lectures, etc.

Predominant type of building photography:
Kondylis: Looking up, tilting; some time-lapse
Portman: Lots of time-lapse

Sampling of people interviewed in the film:
Kondylis: Rick Bell, Kenneth Frampton, James Gardner, Karrie Jacobs, Richard Meier, Francis Morrone, Larry Silverstein, Donald Trump
Portman: Paul Goldberger, K. Michael Hays, Mack Scogin, Jacque Robertson, Portman's children

Kondylis: Dramatic
Portman: Koyaanisqatsi-esque

Support provided by:
Kondylis: The Real Deal
Portman: Central Atlanta Progress, Inc.

Kondylis: Doctoring Trump World Tower to look gold (similar to this), Trump's first choice for the exterior.
Portman: The architect visiting his first atrium building, a public housing project slated for demolition at the time and since demolished.


  1. I haven't seen any of these films but I would love to check them out and offer my own review when I do.

    1. This is Toni Comas, the director of the documentary. Let me know if you need any information for your review.

  2. the condylis film is very good thanx for sharing

  3. Love to check out this film. Thanks for informing.

  4. John, where did you watch the Portman doc? On DVD?

    The Kondylis doc "Building Stories" is available on the website ( Enjoy.

    1. Jeremy - Yes, I watched the Portman doc on DVD. I'm not sure if it's airing anywhere on PBS soon. I watched the Kondylis doc on PBS (WNET), later looking at it online for this review.

    2. Thanks, John. Watched the Kondylis doc over the weekend and was surprised how much his career was tied to Donald Trump. I also didn't know that he built over 80 of the buildings in NY's skyline.

      I'll check out the Portman doc later. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I saw the Kondylis doc on PBS and I was shocked how good it was. It's not the sort of Pan and Zoom docs that you normally see on PBS. The soundtrack had Philip Glass, which was surprising as well. You can view it on Thirteen's website. I highly recommend headphones, because the music is integral to the movie.


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