Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Review: Krueck + Sexton: From There to Here

Krueck Sexton: From There to Here by Krueck + Sexton Architects; introduction by John Morris Dixon
Images Publishing, 2017
Hardcover, 272 pages

I'm not exactly sure when I first became aware of the work of Chicago's Krueck + Sexton (my best guess is seeing their competition entry for the American Library in Berlin in the early 1990s), but they were one of just a handful of firms I wanted to work for when I moved back to Chicago after architecture school in Kansas. Their built work at the time, mainly houses and interior residential projects in the city, exuded Miesian modernism – but with a twist. Although cognizant of, and trained in, Chicago's modernist history (Ron Krueck and Mark Sexton both attended IIT), they were not constrained by it. The over 20 projects covering nearly 40 years of work in this monograph are testament to the formal experimentation born from those Miesian roots.

The sizable book organizes the built and unbuilt works in four chapters – Crisscrosses, Interchanges, Shortcircuits, and Combines – that correspond to formal shapes: rectangles, curves, facets, and combinations of these three. Without strictly doing so, the order of these chapters works roughly chronologically, from the firm's breakout Steel and Glass House in Chicago (1981) to the South Florida Federal Building (2014). The first is all about rectangles ("the rectangle was sacred, so we decided to sever the [U-shaped plan] into three rectangles"), while the second combines faceted shapes and "sinuous warped planes." In between are primarily built works, though unbuilt works – such as the should-have-been-built Chicago Children's Museum in Grant Park – are included where form and surface are in synergy with the buildings.

Uniting the four chapters/formal techniques is one material: glass. This is hardly surprising, given the fact Krueck and Sexton are modern architects and glass is the most modern of materials. But in their hands, glass is never strictly a flat, transparent plane. It's clear that they are aware of the material's contradictions: clear and opaque, liquid and (then) solid, flat or bumpy, transparent or translucent. Consider a couple of their best projects: the Spertus Institute and Crown Fountain. For Spertus, the firm started with designs that mixed masonry and glass, in an effort to fit into its neighbors along the Michigan Avenue streetwall, but in the end they limited the facade to one material. The faceted glass skin calls attention to itself, reinforced by the frit pattern of small white dots that also cuts down on heat gain. Down Michigan Avenue a few blocks, their design for Jaume Plensa's rectilinear Crown Fountain masterfully stacks glass bricks without any apparent frame. Concealed behind the consistent wrapper is a hidden armature that maintains the purity of the external forms. In both of these projects, glass is the main expression – but as far a departure from Miesian tradition as is possible.

Other projects, such as their numerous apartment interiors and showrooms, combine glass with stainless steel, polished stone, and other surfaces in ways that are modern yet unexpected – kaleidoscopic in some cases. These and other qualities are conveyed in From There to Here through large color photographs on matte pages. With the firm's project texts put into narratives at the beginning of each chapter, the photos and accompanying drawings stand by themselves. They are the closest many readers will get to experiencing the projects firsthand. In this regard, the large size of the photos (pages are 10" x 12.5") are all the better for getting pulled into Krueck + Sexton's geometrical creations.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Richard Ingersoll at urbanNext

Although I've spent very little time at urbanNext – a project by Actar aimed at "expanding architecture to rethink cities" – recently I found myself engrossed with Ricardo Devesa's four-part interview with Richard Ingersoll, which I discovered via Actar's three-part Imminent Commons books. The interview took place during the "Architecture: Change of Climate" conference that took place at the Fundación Arquitectura y Sociedad in Pamplona, Spain, in 2016.

I'm not very familiar with the work of architectural historian Ingersoll, who teaches at Syracuse University in Florence and other programs in Italy. My only exposure to date was Sprawltown, a short book from 2006 that I remember enjoying very much. In my review of that book, I noted that Ingersoll "acknowledges that environmental factors, more than human, will push us to change our ways." While all these years later, I would take out "more than human" from that statement, since the environmental problems we face are human-created, Ingersoll's focus on the environment more than buildings was apparent then. In turn, Ingersoll's focus on agriculture, vegetation, and natural buildings over much capital-A architecture permeates the four-part interview. I could see a book coming out of the ideas and research he elucidates over roughly 40 minutes.

Although there is no indication at urbanNext as to the order of the four videos, I've embedded them below into my best guess. Nevertheless, the videos – ranging from 6 to 12 minutes in length – can be watched in any order or individually. If you only have the time or patience for one, I'd recommend the last, "Architects of Global Warming."

Monday, January 29, 2018

Today's archidose #993

Here are some photos of Broward County Library (1984) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, by Robert Gatje. (Photos: Maciek Lulko)

Broward County Library
Broward County Library
Broward County Library
Broward County Library
Broward County Library
Broward County Library

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Exhibition Review: Never Built New York

As posted previously, earlier this year I visited Queens Museum to see Never Built New York, curated by Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin. This week I finally reviewed it.

Never Built New York

Head on over to World-Architects to read my review.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Today's archidose #992

Here are some photos of the Hayward and De Breyne Building at Keble College (1977) at the University of Oxford by Ahrends, Burton and Koralek. (Photos: Neil MacWilliams)

06.07.17 |
06.07.17 |
06.07.17 |
06.07.17 | Curtain Wall.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Book Briefs #33: Imminent Commons + 3

"Book Briefs" are an ongoing series of posts with two- or three-sentence first-hand descriptions of some of the numerous books that make their way into my library. These briefs are not full-blown reviews, but they are a way to share more books worthy of attention than can find their way into reviews on this blog.

Imminent Commons: Urban Questions for the Near Future edited by Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Hyungmin Pai | Actar | 2017 | Amazon
Imminent Commons was the theme for the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017, directed by historian Hyungmin Pai and architect Alejandro Zaera-Polo. The multi-pronged exhibition focused on nine "essential commons as a viable path towards a sustainable and just urbanism": four Ecology Commons (Air, Water, Fire, Earth) and five Technology Commons (Making, Moving, Communicating, Sensing, Recycling). Though the inaugural Seoul Biennale does not (yet) get near the attention or press that the ones in Venice and Chicago do, there's no shortage of ambition by the two directors, witnessed both by the exhibition theme and the three books that accompany it.

Book 1, also the largest at 440 pages, is Urban Questions for the Near Future, the one with the red cover. The many contributions are structured via the nine essential commons, though I found myself drawn to the shorter quotes that populate the back of the book. These smaller "bites," or "storylines" as the editors call them, are categorized into the same commons, and are included because they confront the same themes explored at greater length elsewhere in the book. Some of these storylines, such as Richard Ingersoll's "How to Enjoy Climate Change," jump beyond the page via QR codes.

Imminent Commons: The Expanded City edited by Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Jeffrey S. Anderson | Actar | 2017 | Amazon
Most similar to Urban Questions for the Near Future is Book 2: The Expanded City, the one with the blue cover. Just a tad shorter, at 424 pages, this book keeps the nine-commons structure of the first book but applies it to "providing arguments of continuity between urban and extra-urban areas." Although the 2017 Seoul Biennale "focuses on issues and proposals, not on authors and works," there's plenty of overlap between the contributors in these two books; fitting, given how they came out of the Biennale's main "Nine Commons" thematic exhibition.

Imminent Commons: Commoning Cities edited by Hyungmin Pai, Helen Hejung Choi | Actar | 2017 | Amazon
The third Imminent Commons book is also the slimmest, at only 152 pages. Reflecting the "Commoning Cities" exhibition at the Biennale, accordingly the book is structured as an alphabetical list of cities rather than via the nine commons. How cities will fare in a future of climate change is the idea behind the public initiatives, projects, and urban narratives presented here. With Alexandria, Egypt, for instance, Melina Nicolaides of Bibliotheca Alexandrina describes the challenges the city faces, such as seawater flooding during high-intensity storms. In her entry, solutions are still to be determined – one of many cases where more questions exist than answers.

Platform 10: Live Feed edited by Jon Lott, John May | Harvard GSD & Actar | 2017 | Amazon
I can just imagine the editorial meetings for Harvard GSD's annual book documenting student work, lectures, exhibitions, and other important happenings during the school year: "We have tons of stuff to cram in, but whatever we do, we can't repeat any of the previous Platforms." Every year I've seen something different (Platform 8 from 2016, with its dictionary-like format, stands out from the others), including the latest – edited by Jon Lott from PARA-Project and John May of MILLIØNS, with design by Pentagram – where format is key. Instead of pagination, the book is page after page of numbered photos – from 727 to 001 – followed by chronological captions to each and every photo, but in reverse order of their visual presentation. As the book's subtitle conveys, it's like a digital feed of the school's day-to-day activities jumped to the page. Remarkably, the editors started with exactly 117,518 photos culled from a crowd-sourced database and somehow managed to narrow those down to the final number.

Public Catalyst by Manuel Bailo Esteve | Actar | 2017 | Amazon
This book came out of the author's PhD at Escola Tècnica Superior d'Arquitectura de Barcelona in 2012. Based on its contents, and the fact it's really two books in one – Public Catalyst and Catalysts Drawn – Esteve's interest in the city is wide-ranging, focused broadly on life and what can be done to catalyze it. The first book within a book is more academic, delving, for instance, into Werner Hegemann, Camillo Sitte, Edmund Bacon, and others that came before the author. Here we see the big picture, while the second "book" takes aim at the details, doing so through twenty beautifully illustrated case studies. Most of the examples are real (e.g. a shade structure designed by Enric Miralles and Carme Pinós), but the inclusion of a scene from Jacques Tati's Mon Oncle illustrates that inspiration can come from fiction as well as reality.

Suprarural: Architectural Atlas of Rural Protocols of the American Midwest and the Argentine Pampas edited by Ciro Najle, Lluís Ortega | Actar | 2017 | Amazon
In November 2017, the Guggenheim and OMA announced a 2019 exhibition curated by Rem Koolhaas, tentatively titled Countryside: Future of the World. Many reacted as if Koolhaas, known for investigating cities, was leaping into territory not explored by other architects. That, of course, is not the case. One example is Ciro Najle and Lluís Ortega's Suprarural, which combines two American landscapes: the US Midwest and Argentine Pampas. Putting these two regions together may seem odd, but it was born from the duo's studios and seminars taught at schools in Buenos Aires and Chicago. The goal, as stated in the preface, is "to develop techniques to straightforwardly urbanize with and through the rural." The bulk of the book is research and analysis, followed by "visions of the suprarural cosmopolis." The student visions vary widely in terms of form and purpose, but they tend to follow the existing agricultural grids and armatures that have already shaped the countries' landscapes.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Book Review: MONU #27

Reviewed by Claudia Consonni

When reading MONU’s issue #27 on Small Urbanism, the exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, curated by Emilio Ambasz in 1972 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, immediately came to my mind. The link between the two arose from the attention that both give to objects and small things, and their relationship to the bigger scale and the environment. This is why I want to talk about the new issue of MONU through a comparison that aims at showing the similarities between the magazine and the exhibition.

[Cover from the catalogue of Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, 1972]

First, a brief introduction of the exhibition is necessary to understand the importance of the objects in the case at hand, and consequently to appreciate the link with MONU. I found a statement by Ambasz particularly exhaustive in this regard: “When I started the exhibition I knew nothing about Italian design.” He admitted further, “I had read a few magazines and seen beautiful products, so I said we should have an exhibition. It was only when I got to Italy that it became evident to me that the designers were making objects, but thinking of environments.” To demonstrate this, Ambasz commissioned a series of prototype environments, installations that would reflect upon changing domestic living patterns within contemporary society, while also facilitating the exploratory use of new materials and multimedia technology.

[Scenes from Italy: The New Domestic Landscape at MoMA, 1972 | Photos: Cristiano Toraldo di Francia]

Hence, MoMA’s show shifted the center of the discussion from production and technique to symbols and social critique, as it was encapsulated in the keywords with which Ambasz chose to define contemporary design: “landscape,” “environment,” “media,” “counter-design,” and “politics.” What emerged from the exhibition was the power of the small objects that became a cultural tool for contesting, reforming and acting on the city.

Moreover, the exhibition’s catalogue included a quote from the famous children's book The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, which reminds us how important it is to take responsibilities for our actions and also that every small thing has a responsibility itself. In the first page, we read:
“You become responsible, forever, for what you have domesticated.”
“What does that mean — 'domesticated'?”
“It is an act too often neglected. It means to establish bonds.”
“Please domesticate me,” said the fox.
“I want to, very much,” the little prince replied.
“But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”
“One only understands the things that one domesticates,” said the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things already made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so we have no friends any more. If you want a friend, domesticate me…”
“What must I do, to domesticate you?” asked the little prince.
“…One must observe the proper rites…” “What is a rite?” asked the little prince.
“Those are actions too often neglected,” said the fox. “They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours.”
Contrary to convention, the objects in the Italy exhibition were displayed in the natural setting of MoMA’s sculpture garden, while the environments were shown within the institutional spaces of the museum’s galleries. This curatorial decision was an attempt to almost cancel any sense of hierarchy between exhibited objects and environments, and to focus rather on their interaction with visitors.

[Spiked platforms under overpasses, China | Photo courtesy of Daily Mail]

Also in MONU #27, some articles focused on the relationship between the small-scale objects and the environment. Indeed, “The Democracy of Objects” by the American philosopher Levi Bryants, talks about something similar. In an interview with Bernd Upmeyer, he says that “every object is a crowd!” As a result, we should not treat the smaller elements of an object as subordinated to the larger scale object. Instead, they are on equal footing. He also added that how we design things (even the smallest ones, like a toilet door, a bench, or an overpass for example) makes a real difference in our lives socially and politically, and we should be attentive in managing this kind of power because every small object has a significant function and we are responsible for it.

Such things regarding physical elements were central also in “A Matter of Zooming,” Bernd Upmeyer’s interview with Stephan Petermann from the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). The main focus of the interview is on OMA’s “Elements of Architecture” project at the 2014 Venice Biennale. In regards to Small Urbanism, I found the research on the door, the window, and the balcony extremely interesting — particularly the balcony. Petermann describes the balcony as the physical platform between the public and private realm, so it seems to be an incredibly powerful tool for urban politics. (These days we can also see Twitter as a balcony.)

Additionally, Petermann says that by focusing on these small elements it is possible to uncover the extremely complex interplay of technology, art, culture, economy and politics in great detail. Furthermore, the responsibility of these objects is to engage with a type of deeper understanding of the fundamentals of architecture and consequently of the fundamentals of urbanism. As Petermann declared, urbanism is not separate from elements because every element has an urbanistic consequence.

[The “Balcony” room from “Elements of Architecture” at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale | Photo: Giorgio de Vecchi]

Another relationship between MONU’s new issue and the MoMA exhibition can be found in the role played by small technologies. It is interesting to know that to accompany the installations at MoMA, each designer was asked to produce a film that would demonstrate their environment’s vulnerability. Together, the environments and films refined the potential for domestic spaces to fundamentally influence inhabitants’ thoughts and actions. Small technology tools can be very powerful and useful to, and responsible for, changing spaces and their understanding.

In the MONU article “All the small things,” Benedetta Marani tries to demonstrate the strength of the information and communication technologies within the city. Her essay shows how the web has become the new arena of discussion and has often been used as a channel for participatory processes for urban public spaces. These new discussion arenas have become responsible for small-scale interventions and have had the power to change the use of city spaces with a virtuous impact on the daily life in neighborhoods.

Furthermore, we can consider the MoMA exhibition as a small initial action itself, one that had a great echo in the following years and which still exerts an influence. Originally intended to travel to museums across the United States, the exhibition opened for a single summer in New York before being dismantled and returned to Italy. Yet, despite the brevity of its public presentation, the show became a benchmark for future architecture and design exhibitions. “It’s the great ‘myth’ of design curating,” explains Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic, “the show that my generation never saw, but thanks to the catalogue, and the title we regularly refer to it.” The catalogue of Italy: the New Domestic Landscape had a great impact in the following years both in Italian and American academic circles because it was the first book which attempted to chart the cultural complexity of an emerging design culture.

[Febrik, Drawing work in the studio (Play space 2005,Burj El Barajneh refugee camp, Lebanon) | Photo: Febrik]

In MONU magazine’s new issue, I found a similar procedure related to “small initial actions” that can have a big impact on a larger scale. For example, in the article “Urbanism for Refugees,” Fabio Micocci shows how small tactical actions carried out in a refugee camp in Lebanon are helpful in establishing pilot projects that could devise new procedures for the future; reshaping and adapting urban design principles to the new context of the global movement of people. Micocci touches on a crucial issue: the “right to space,” or rather space as a process of re-appropriation. Re-appropriation in this case means actions of participation in a process that involves children and adults to ensure identification with and belonging to the space. On a larger scale, “Right to space” means “Right to the city” (Henri Lefebrve, 1968).

We can consider the right to the city as the right to change and reinvent the city according to our needs. Moreover, it is a collective rather than an individual right, since rebuilding the city inevitably depends on the exercise of a common power over the processes of urbanization. The freedom to build and rebuild cities and ourselves is one of the most precious human rights — yet it is also one of the most neglected. To claim the right to the city means to claim the power to give shape to the processes of urbanization, to the ways in which our cities are built and rebuilt, and to do it in a radical way — starting from the small things.

Claudia Consonni recently graduated from Politecnico di Milano. She also obtained a master in Architecture and Museography at Accademia Adrianea in Rome. During the past two years she has been collaborating as teaching assistant at the design studio held by Lorenzo Degli Esposti that is focused on urban planning and public spaces. Since 2017, she is a member of the research collective GruppoTorto.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Closing Soon

A trio of exhibitions I visited last week: three of them are closing within the next week, while the third one closes next month. All are worth the effort.

Closes Monday, January 22
falkeis.architects: active energy building

Austrian Cultural Forum New York
11 East 52nd Street
Open M-F 3-5pm by appointment only (via email in link)

There's a double appeal to this small exhibition: learning about the design, research, and construction of the Active Energy Building in Lichtenstein, designed by Austrian architects Anton Falkeis and Cornelia Falkeis-Senn; and seeing the 11th floor of Raimund Abraham's Austrian Cultural Forum. Instead of walking inside the building and taking a few steps to the public galleries on the lower floors, one must take an elevator ride to see the drawings, model, and photos of the Active Energy Building. Tucked in the building's tapered section between the ACFNY's offices and the apartment of ACFNY director Christine Moser, it's a trip most people will never take.

Falkeis.architects' Active Energy Building is billed as "an energy autonomous building producing more energy that it consumes." In our age of climate change and dwindling resources, this should really be the goal of all buildings. Theirs does it through two systems: "PV-tracking systems and PCM-climate wings, part of a moving building envelope, harvest solar and interstellar radiation for controlling the building climate." Solar radiation is harvested for energy production and heating, while interstellar radiation (something I'm not familiar with) is harvested for cooling. Architecturally, the building's most attention-getting features are the movable PV panels on the roof and facade; their orientation is adjusted every five minutes.

After the exhibition closes at ACFNY, it will head to California and then to Germany (venues TBD).

Closes Friday, January 26
All the Queens Houses

The Architectural League of New York
594 Broadway, Suite 607
Open Fridays 2-6pm (Free. No reservations required.)

Originally set to close in December, this popular exhibition of architect/artist Rafael Herrin-Ferri's photographs of houses in the city's most diverse borough was extended for another month. It's located in the Architectural League offices and therefore is only open to the public one day a week, and for just four hours. Two long walls astride some conference tables are filled with a grid of photos; most of them are small, but a few are larger and call attention to themselves. Herrin-Ferri's photos are primarily frontal, recalling the documentarian photos of Bernd and Hilla Becher – even the skies over the Queens houses are gray, like the skies of Germany in the earlier photos.

The exhibition comes out of Herrin-Ferri's ongoing project of documenting the borough's quirky residential architecture, which he presents on his All the Queens Houses blog. He described his process to the League's Emily Schmidt in a 2015 interview: "I worried that I would miss something, maybe the best example of a classic Queens building type, if I didn’t go street by street. So I decided to be very systematic and do a house-by-house-style survey." While this seems to align his project with the spate of the "All the ___" books floating around, the name of the blog and exhibition is closer to Humpty Dumpty: "All the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together again." Herrin-Ferri recognizes the borough's quirkiness as attempts at making buildings more livable – and in the process making individual statements and attracting the attention of the curious through his efforts.

Until Friday, February 16
Five Artists + Architecture

Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, CCNY
141 Convent Avenue
M-F 9am-5pm

The exhibition now occupying the atrium of my alma mater's Spitzer School of Architecture presents the work of five faculty artists "that illustrate the dynamic relationship between art and architecture." The works on display include Alan Feigenberg's photographs of people in the built environment, Danial Hauben's paintings of the Bronx, David Judelson's geometric sculptures, Irma Ostroff's colorful abstract paintings, and Albert Vecerka's professional and personal photographs of buildings. The show was curated by Lance Jay Brown, professor at CCNY.

Of the five artists, I had the most familiarity with Vecerka beforehand, both his commissioned work for architects like Weiss/Manfredi (their new building at Cornell Tech is in the show) and his personal documentation of Manhattanville during its transformation into a new campus for Columbia University. The photographer lives and has a studio nearby, in Harlem, a neighborhood he has documented extensively and also displays here. But circumstances led him to photograph the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia over a dozen years ago. Those photos, anchored by a huge print (below), stand out from the rest of his work. A 19th-century ruin (open to the public) rather than a new building or piece of urban vernacular, the former prison illustrates how the world is an open canvas open to the artistic gaze – be it these five artists or any others.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Book Review: Green Heart Marina One Singapore

Green Heart Marina One Singapore—Architecture for Tropical Cities by ingenhoven architects
Aedes Architecture Forum, 2017
Paperback, 124 pages

While in Berlin last November, ingenhoven architects' "Green Heart" was on display at the Aedes Architecture Forum. Although I didn't make it to the exhibition, I did manage to get my hands on the catalogue about the amazing Marina One project in Singapore. I'm reviewing it now since the Prime Minsters of Malaysia and Singapore officially opened the project this week.

The title, "Green Heart," refers to the green space that sits at the heart of the mixed-use project that is made up of four towers with commercial, office, and residential uses. It's an amazing project that reminds me of the work of Singapore's own WOHA, though on an even-bigger scale. The buildings of both ingenhoven and WOHA in Singapore make it clear that density and vegetation go hand in hand in building sustainably.

As my subpar photos above show, Green Heart is not a typical book: it is prefaced by an extensive gatefold that illustrates the project's green features on one side and project credits on the other side. Moving from the growth of worldwide population and the development of Singapore to the cooling aspects of Marina One and designing for tropical living, this illustrated strip pulls one aspect of the exhibition – a light table – into the realm of the book.

What follows is more traditional, but not necessarily less informative: a lengthy interview with architect Christoph Ingenhoven, plenty of drawings and photographs, and interviews with Michael Ngu (architects61, local architect), Siew Leng Fun (Urban Redevelopment Authority), Kemmy Tan (M&S Private, client), and landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson (Gustafson, Porter + Bowman). Most illuminating are the interviews with Ingenhoven and Gustafson, the main design forces behind the buildings and landscape that cohere into a remarkable statement.

Those interested in purchasing the catalogue should visit the Aedes Architecture Forum website.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Heritage Trails NY, 20 Years Later

As an extension of its exhibition, MILLENNIUM: Lower Manhattan in the 1990s, the Skyscraper Museum has launched an update of Heritage Trails New York, a "digital reconstruction [of] a landmark public history project focused on lower Manhattan of the mid-1990s."

[All images via Skyscraper Museum]

The "Digital Trail" uses the original Van Dam Heritage Trails map (above) and then places the original entries (below left) and updated entries (below right) next to the map. The interactive page illustrates the changes that happened in Lower Manhattan in a relatively short amount of time – a period marked by the destruction of September 11 and the area's subsequent recovery, as well as more and more people moving into the area.

In addition to the interactive map, which works on mobile devices but is best seen on laptops and other large screens, the Skyscraper Museum created a Heritage Trails Archive. The latter is necessary, given how the physical markers spread about the area (below) have been modified and/or removed since 2000. As the archive describes it: "History is rewritten often, both by historians and by subsequent events. The brief life of Heritage Trails New York, though, was surprisingly short-lived given the considerable energy, talent, and funds expended on it." That energy is regained with the equally large effort to update the map entries, digitize it, and make it available for for the smartphone-wielding throngs descending on Lower Manhattan.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Today's archidose #991

Here are a couple photos of the Agricultural Rehabilitation Center KRUS "Granit" (1981) in Szklarska Poręba, Poland, by Stefan Janusz Müller. (Photos: M. M. Czarnecki)


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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Due Spring 2019

Last month I signed the contract for my next book with Prestel, tentatively titled NYC Walking Tours. Due to be released in spring 2019, the book collects eight architectural walking tours (plus two new ones) that I've been giving for the last six years for the 92Y and other institutions in and around New York City.

In some ways the new book will be like an update of my first book, Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture (W. W. Norton, 2011), whose 22 chapters were organized as suggested walking routes. NYC Walking Tours will feature numerous buildings and landscapes from that book but many more that have been completed since then. Due to its structure and length, it will not be as comprehensive as my first book, and it will be more explicit in the routes – where to go, and what to look at. And of course, it will be compact and easy to carry around.

This image (something I quickly mocked up and certainly NOT the cover for the book) is a case in point: my High Line tour involves getting off the elevated park to look at a few buildings up close, including Shigeru Ban's Metal Shutter Houses, whose duplex units sit behind its namesake shutters and garage-door-like walls of glass. Other tours head to Billionaire's Row, the Bowery, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Columbia University, and Roosevelt Island, among other parts of the city where a density of new architecture warrants a walk.

I'm not posting this news here to toot my own horn. Rather, if you see posts that are a bit NYC-heavy in the next few months as I finish the manuscript...well, now you know why.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A305 at CCA

Followers of this blog probably know I like architecture documentaries, such as ACB's informative half-hour features on modern and contemporary buildings. In 2016 I blogged about some overlap between those docs and my book 100 Years, 100 Buildings, but many of them were removed from YouTube after ACB's account was terminated. (I found versions of those docs elsewhere, but many embeds in that post are still broken.)

A series of architecture documentaries that shouldn't have that issue is A305, aka "History of Architecture and Design 1890–1939." According to the Canadian Centre for Architecture, which is posting the series on their YouTube channel, "Between 1975 and 1982, The Open University broadcast a series of televised courses on the genealogy of the modern movement: A305, History of Architecture and Design 1890–1939. Through twenty-four programs aired on BBC 2, the course team aimed to offer students and viewers a critical understanding of the intentions and views of the world that fueled the modern movement, and to present some of the alternative traditions that flourished alongside it."

As part of its exhibition, The University Is Now on Air: Broadcasting Modern Architecture (15 November to 1 April), the CCA is posting one episode per week. There are eight to date, all embedded below. As more are added to their channel, I'll embed those below. The next one will be tomorrow, so if you like the episodes, check back here every Friday for another one.

A305/01: What Is Architecture? An Architect at Work:

A305/02: The Universal International Exhibition, Paris, 1900:

A305/11 (thematically combined with 02): The International Exhibition of Decorative Arts Paris 1925:

A305/03: Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Hill House:

A305/04: Industrial Architecture: AEG and Fagus Factories:

A305/05: Frank Lloyd Wright: The Robie House:

A305/06: R. M. Schindler: The Lovell Beach House:

A305/07: Erich Mendelsohn: The Einstein Tower:

A305/12: Adolf Loos:

A305/08: The Bauhaus in Weimar 1919-1925

A305/09: Berlin Siedlungen

A305/10: The Weissenhof Siedlung, 1927

A305/16: Hans Scharoun

A305/13: Le Corbusier: Villa Savoye

A305/14: English Flats of the Thirties

A305/15: English Houses of the Thirties

A305/17: Wood or Metal? English Furniture in the Thirties:

A305/18: Edwin Lutyens: Deanery Gardens

A305/19: The London Underground

A305/20: Moderne and Modernistic

A305/21: The Other Tradition

A305/22: Mechanical Services in the Cinema

A305/23: The Semi Detached House

A305/24: The Housing Question

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Book Review: OfficeUS Manual

OfficeUS Manual edited by Eva Franch, Ana Miljački, Carlos Mínguez Carrasco, Jacob Reidel, Ashley Schafer
Lars Müller Publishers, 2017
Paperback, 288 pages

In my first job in an architecture office right out of school, one of the first things I was given – before I even had my own desk – was an employee handbook. A photocopied, spiral-bound booklet, the handbook delved into the details of what was expected from me as an employee: in terms of attire, sick days, performance, smoking (none, a new rule at the time), timesheets, billing, CAD standards, and so on and so on. The manual increased over time as the 50-person firm I joined more than doubled in a short amount of time. Over that time it functioned as a means of indoctrinating new employees and providing old employees with updates. I never imagined it to be more than a dry guide to office life, something that every office has. In the hands of the Storefront for Art and Architecture and others office manuals like this one offer fascinating glimpses into the architecture profession in the United States.

[Spread from OfficeUS Manual showing office plans]

OfficeUS Manual is the third book produced out of Storefront's curation (with MIT and Praxis) of the US Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. That year, Rem Koolhaas was director of the Biennale, and he unified the normally divergent national pavilions under one theme: "Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014." Storefront focused on the imperial ambitions of US firms, tracing 100 years of American firms building overseas. I'm not familiar with OfficeUS Agenda, the exhibition's catalog, but OfficeUS Atlas, which I reviewed in 2015, is a hefty book with archived publications and profiles of the many firms working overseas. OfficeUS Manual delves into the inner-workings of some of these firms through that often overlooked document, the employee handbook.

[Spread from OfficeUS Manual showing CAD conventions]

Compared to Atlas, Manual is much more fun – at least for architects. Sure, the various clippings from the office manuals of Bertrand Goldberg, Richard Neutra, Venturi and Rauch, Höweler + Yoon, [redacted], and many others are accompanied by new, often academic essays (most of them short); but the focus is on the clippings from manuals, grouped into 71 topics. Overtime: "Although it is in everyone's best interest to complete work during regular business hours, the nature of the profession of architecture sometimes makes this impossible." Procrastination: "Any architectural office in a major western city keeps a parrot in the drafting room ... [screaming] at the employees below: 'WORK! WORK! WORK!'" Office Attire and Decorum: "Each member of the studio will be issued Office Slippers." Correspondence: "'Slang' should not be used in any written form of correspondence including email."

I could go on with the examples, but it should be clear that half the fun is relating the selected quotes to one's own experiences, be it from a similar time or many decades ago. But with only 288 pages and much of the real estate taken up by the new essays and stills from a specially commissioned film (Amie Siegel's The Architects) that peeks into architecture offices, I can only empathize with the work of the editors. Wading through thousands of pages in manuals to find the most incisive, controversial, and often humorous lines to put into the book – that is not a task I would wish on my enemies. So kudos to the editors for their work and finding a way to present and make sense of an important but overlooked element of architectural production.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

AIA's 25-Year Award for 2018 goes to...

...Nada. Zilch. That's right, for the first time in its nearly 50-year history, the AIA is not giving out a Twenty-five Year Award. I learned that news at Architect magazine and then wrote about it for World-Architects, where I couldn't help wonder what was submitted – and what wasn't.

Were these buildings submitted?

Head on over to World-Architects to read my thoughts on this year's no-Twenty-five Year Award.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Today's archidose #990

Here are a couple photos of the (new-to-me) Sint Rita Church (1966) in Harelbeke, Belgium, by Léon Stynen and Paul De Meyer. (Photos: Lukas Schlatter.)

Sint Rita Church
Sint Rita Church

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:
:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool
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Friday, January 05, 2018

Never Built New York

Earlier this week I finally made it out to the Queens Museum to see Never Built New York. Curated by Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin, the exhibition is based on their 2016 book of the same name, with exhibition design by Christian Wassmann. I'll have a review on World-Architects in a couple weeks, linking to it here once it's online. In the meantime, here is a slideshow of my photos of the exhibition, which is split into three parts: gallery with drawings and models, Panorama of the City of New York with NBNY additions, and main space highlighting projects for Flushing, Queens.

Never Built New York

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Meet ED

Archinect is no stranger to print, having produced Bracket every couple years or so since the inaugural issue in 2010. Regardless, Archinect is making a big deal about Ed, the new quarterly print publication it describes as "an experiment in how to evolve architectural publishing." Archinect founder Paul Petrunia further describes Ed as "a hybrid publication ... [that] will charge forward into new territory while taking inspiration and elaborating on trends from Archinect’s dedicated community of participants and contributors." Starting with the first issue that was just released, each Ed will have its own theme and unique graphic design.

Ed 1, under Editor in Chief Nicholas Korody and designer Folder Studio, is themed "The Architecture of Architecture," which immediately brings to mind the theme of the first Chicago Architecture Biennial, "The State of the Art of Architecture," at least in name and being fairly open-ended. Korody's introduction describes architecture as "always plural and always contested" and the issue as "a self-portrait of the discipline and the profession." Petrunia's and Korody's words combine to paint some pretty ambitious goals; although I don't doubt their ambition, it's hard to grasp clearly where the "new territory" lies or if the publication says more about (the architecture of) architecture than other publications, print or otherwise.

Korody describes Ed 1 as "a journal wrapped in a magazine," an assertion that holds up in both its contents and its design. Design-wise, the "magazine" contributions that begin and end the issue are in color, on glossy paper, and tend to be projects and/or interviews with architects; alternatively, the "journal" contributions are on matte pages with b/w illustrations, the occasional half-page insert and its own table of contents, and the articles here tend to be scholarly in tone. The whole is very handsome (it even smells good!) and holds much promise for future issues, particularly given that each, like MAS Context, will be designed by a different graphic designer.

In terms of content, I found myself drawn equally to pieces in both sections of the issue: an excerpt from Interboro's The Arsenal of Inclusion & Exclusion and the "Small Studio Snapshot" on Brandão Costa Arquitectos in the "magazine" section; and contributions by Troy Conrad Therrien, Jack Self, and Scott Deisher, among others, in the "journal" section. A couple essays paint differences between print and online. "Heroes, Rumors, Cults: Designs on Architectural Celebrity" by Feminist Architecture Collaborative (the cover story) can be found online as well, but with its numerous footnotes (one after the first word!) and illustrations, the print version is more readable. Deisher's piece, "Swagger from the Front: Crisis and Criticism since 1980," makes me realize what is in other publications but is missing here: a bio. Who is Scott Deisher? Beats me, but Ed doesn't help; perhaps Archinect will.

Those interested in contributing to Ed #2 have until January 30.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Vote for Building of the Year

Head on over to American-Architects to vote for Building of the Year 2017. The nearly 50 contenders are culled from the Building of the Week feature that I curate. Voting is online until the end of January with the winner announced in early February.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Today's archidose #989

Here are some photos of the Vauxhall Cross (2005) bus station and transport interchange in Lambeth, London by Arup Associates. (Photos: Artur Salisz.)

Although barely twelve years old, last month the Lambeth Council approved plans to demolish the station in favor of "new transport interchange and public realm improvements" designed by 5th Studio. The Architects' Journal (subscription) has more information on the proposed development plans and the demolition of the distinctive building.

Vauxhall Cross Bus Station
Vauxhall Cross bus station HDR
Vauxhall Cross bus station
Vauxhall Cross bus station

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:
:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool
To contribute your Instagram images for consideration, just:
:: Tag your photos #archidose