Monday, January 07, 2019

Steven Holl: Seven Houses

Steven Holl: Seven Houses
Steven Holl with Philip Jodidio
Rizzoli, November 2018

Hardcover | 9-3/4 x 9-3/4 inches | 192 pages | English | ISBN: 978-0847861590 | $75.00

Publisher Description:
This book takes a close look at seven houses designed by Steven Holl, considered one of America's most influential architects. It offers the reader unprecedented access to the thought processes and work of this groundbreaking, cutting-edge architect through his own words and watercolors―and more than 100 photographs.

This volume features seven of his residential houses and looks at his approach to modernist suburban residences, including two new homes finished in 2017. Viewed as a collection, these houses serve to demonstrate the wide range of Holl's prodigious genius through lavish and striking photographs as well as Holl's own descriptions. Considered one of America's most important architects, Holl is recognized for his ability to blend space and light with great contextual sensitivity and to utilize the unique qualities of each project to create a concept-driven design. Time magazine declared Holl "America's Best Architect" for his "buildings that satisfy the spirit as well as the eye."
dDAB Commentary:
The seven houses of this book's title range from two small structures on Steven Holl's own property north of New York City to a large house and gallery in South Korea. Most of the houses ― all completed in the last 20 years ― are scattered about the Northeast United States, though one is in New Mexico and two of them are only vaguely located in the United States (the latter happen to be on the same property, as a site plan attests). More interesting than the geography and even formal characteristics of the houses Holl designs is that he continues to design them at all. Often when a firm designs large developments, as Holl does in China, single-family houses become untenable for various reasons. A chronology of houses at the back of the book reveals that Holl has been designing them constantly since 1974; so perhaps he is unable to break from a typology at the core of his architectural being.

The framework through which the seven houses are presented, as the sub-subtitle "Luminist Architecture" makes clear, is luminosity. For Holl, an architect far from shy about is love of natural light and means of incorporating it into his designs, the luminosity of his houses finds a synergy in American landscape paintings from the 1800s, as he spells out in his introduction to the book. Holl delves into the notion of luminosity a bit more in the interview with Philip Jodidio after the presentation of the seven houses, but it's the photos, drawings, models, and watercolors of the latter that are most convincing argument for Holl's continued experimentation in residential architecture.

Author Bios:
Steven Holl is the founder and principal of Steven Holl Architects (est. 1977) in New York and the designer of all projects ongoing in the office... Holl is a tenured professor in the Graduate School of Architecture and Planning at Columbia University and an architect in New York. Philip Jodidio studied art history and economics at Harvard before moving to Paris... Jodidio has written over 90 books about contemporary architecture and art.
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