Book Review: John Vinci: Life and Landmarks

John Vinci: Life and Landmarks by Robert Sharoff, William Zbaren
Northwestern University Press, 2017
Hardcover, 272 pages

Being a preservation architect means toiling in relative obscurity. After all, it's the details of what is being preserved – the building, the creation of a particularly architect, the place where a famous event took place or a person lived – that are at the forefront of a preservation project, not the person in charge of its restoration. Gunny Harboe, for instance, is known by just about all architects in Chicago, but outside of the city his is hardly a common name, even though he's been responsible for the restoration of buildings by Wright, Mies, and many others. Ditto John Vinci, who's restored many notable buildings but was responsible for one in particular – the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room – that I first experienced as a teenager, on a field trip to
Crossing Through Colors
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Today’s archidose #995

Here are a few photos of House Van Wassenhove (1974) in Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium, by Juliaan Lampens. (Photos: Lukas Schlatter)

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Book Review: Neighbourhood: Where Álvaro meets Aldo

Neighbourhood: Where Álvaro meets Aldo edited by Nuno Grande, Roberto Cremascoli
Hatje Cantz, 2017
Paperback, 208 pages

Of the many countries that participate in the Venice Architecture Biennale, Portugal is one of those that does not have a home in the Giardini. As such, it ventures out into the city for a venue – not necessarily a bad thing, since it spreads out the exhibition beyond the confines of the Giardini and Arsenale and further embeds the exhibition in the city. In 2016, Portugal's contribution to the Biennale was located on Giudecca, the long island that, outside of Palladio's Il Redentore, doesn't see as many tourists as the rest of Venice. Curators Nuno Grande and Roberto Cremascoli did this for a good reason though: they wanted to draw attention to an unfinished work by Alvaro Siza, Portugal's most famous modern architect.

[Exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale | Photo:
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Book Review: Built Unbuilt

Built Unbuilt by Julien De Smedt and Julien Lanoo
Frame Publishers, 2017
Paperback, 328 pages

Back in 2011, when I reviewed JDS Architects' Agenda: Can We Sustain Our Ability to Crisis? alongside a few other monographs, I described the format of Agenda as a "diary."& That book's many projects by Julien De Smedt – both on his own and with Bjarke Ingels as PLOT – were structured via timeline: a year in the life of JDS that started with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. The new monograph, Built Unbuilt, sets aside a chronological format in favor of two halves: built works and unbuilt projects. Nevertheless, parts of the book have a casualness that makes them read like a diary.

[Spread from "Built"]

The first half of the book, "Built," is where the co-authorship comes across: Julien De Smedt is the architect, the head of the
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Today’s archidose #994

Here are some photos of La città lineare per Santa Croce (1969) by Zziggurat (Alberto Breschi, Roberto Pecchioli) from Radical Utopias Beyond Architecture: Florence 1966–1976, which closed on January 21 at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. (Photos: Trevor Patt, who has lots of photos of the exhibition in his "Utopie Radicali" Flickr set.)


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Window to the Heart

Window to the Heart

On Thursday the tenth annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design was unveiled. I didn't make it to the press event that morning, but I did head there yesterday afternoon. I'm glad I did, because the installation's presence is more impressive after the sun goes down – appropriately so, given its location.

Window to the Heart

Window to the Heart is the creation of ArandaLasch + Marcelo Coelho with Formlabs, with Laufs Engineering Design as structural engineer. This year's competition was curated by Design Trust for Public Space. Billed as "the world’s largest lens," the 12-foot-diameter installation was designed by ArandaLasch with 3D-printing manufacturer Formlabs "to distort and capture the image of Times Square, optically bending light – and attention – to the heart-shaped window at its center."

Window to the Heart

With this goal in mind, the resulting effect is hard to grasp during the day:
Window to the Heart

But is more understandable once the sun goes down:
Window to the Heart

Times Square
Window to the Heart
Window to the Heart
Window to the Heart
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Candela in Chicago

From January 19 to March 3, Félix Candela's Concrete Shells: An Engineered Architecture for México and Chicago is on display in Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). The show is curated by Alexander Eisenschmidt and is a collaboration between UIC and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

Unfortunately, I'm unable to catch this exhibition, but the photos here, courtesy of Gallery 400, give a sense of the show and make me wish I could see it in person.

Félix Candela (1910 - 1997) is hardly unknown to architects in the United States. (He is so famous for his concrete shell structures that a trio of them in Queens were considered his work for decades until some researchers determined they were designed by another architect.) Nevertheless, his life and work deserve more attention. (I had no idea he taught at UIC for most of the 1970s,
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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