Reporting from Venice

I'm heading to Venice to catch the Vernissage of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale and cover it for World-Architects. In turn, this blog will take a short, two-week break.

Reporting from the Front


Book Review: Exhibiting the Postmodern

Exhibiting the Postmodern: The 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale by Léa-Catherine Szacka
Marsilio, 2017
Paperback, 264 pages

One week from today the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale opens to the public. To get myself in the mindset for a trip to Venice to cover the event for World-Architects, I just read this book that takes an in-depth look at the 1980 Biennale, what is considered the first true architecture Biennale in Venice (the art Biennales date back to the late 19th century). I've known about the The Presence of the Past exhibition, curated by Paolo Portoghesi, for a while, mainly through images of the "Strada Novissima" in the Arsenale. But reading Léa-Catherine Szacka's case study of the exhibition, I realized just how narrow my understanding was – limited in large part to a superficial appreciation of the twenty Postmodern facades lining the "Strada." But the exhibition was a bit more than
Continue reading "Book Review: Exhibiting the Postmodern"

Film Review: The Proposal

Late last month, in a post about dancers at Casa Luis Barragán, I mentioned seeing and reviewing Jill Magid's The Proposal. I saw the documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival the same day as the post, and yesterday I (finally) posted my review on World-Architects. Read it by clicking here or the image below.

[Image: Jill Magid]

See also a couple related book reviews on this blog and my Unpacking My Library blog:

RIP Will Alsop

Over the weekend architect Will Alsop died at the age of 70 after a short illness. I'd written about a couple of his notable buildings on this blog: the Peckham Library in London, which won the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2000, and the Sharpe Centre for Design at OCAD University in Toronto. I'd actually seen the latter in person, so I wrote about it from my experience and with my photos; here are a few of those, showing the building propped above its predecessors and the view down to the shadows cast by the angled stilts. It was a jarring building when completed in 2004 and is a strong element in Toronto's architectural renaissance this century.

Drawing Matters

Today Morpholio launched "Smart Fill" for its popular TracePro app for iOS. With it came the short video below, with architects talking about why drawing matters and using the app's new feature, "a fill tool that not only calculates the area of the fill, it actually changes as the sketch evolves," in the words of Morpholio co-founder Anna Kenoff. Thankfully, the video is more about how architects draw in the digital age than being sold on the app; combined with some ambient music, it's an enjoyable way to spend 5-1/2 minutes.

Coincidentally, one of the images provided by Morpholio for illustrating how "Smart Fill" works depicts WORKac's Kew Gardens Hills Library, which I posted about over the weekend. In it the tool is being used to do material take offs for the facades. I haven't used TracePro (back in 2012 I briefly played around with Trace), but it looks
Continue reading "Drawing Matters"

Today’s archidose #1002: ‘100 Years, 100 Landscape Designs’

Although it's been more than a few months since my last book, 100 Years, 100 Landscape Designs, came out last fall, I'd yet to put together a "Today's archidose" on the book as I did with 100 Years, 100 Buildings in a more timely manner the year before. Like its predecessor, the book highlights 100 projects, in this case parks, gardens, and other landscape designs built over the last 100 years, with the gimmick that there is only one building per year based on completion or some other important milestone (a trickier thing to nail down with landscapes than buildings). Here are photos of 25 landscapes culled from the archidose Flickr pool (and some of my own that I just uploaded to Flickr) to give a taste of what's in the book. For more information on 100 Years, 100 Landscape Designs, which is published by Prestel, check out
Sunnyside Gardens
Lunuganga 37
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden
Storm King Art Center
The Sea Ranch
St. Louis Arch
Olympic Park Munich
Memorial Horizon
14 - IGUALADA - Cementerio [arqs. MIRALLES - PINÓS]
Jardim Botânico de Barcelona, Espanha
José Antonio Martínez Lapeña & Elías Torres Tur. Escalators of la Granja. Toledo #20
MFO Park
Moses Bridge, Fort de Roovere, Halsteren, The Netherlands
West 8, MRIO Arquitectos. Bridges Cascara Madrid RIO #1
Gardens by the Bay
High Line Section 2
grande cretto di Burri
Continue reading "Today’s archidose #1002: ‘100 Years, 100 Landscape Designs’"

Book Review: WORKac

WORKac: We'll Get There When We Cross That Bridge by Amale Andraos, Dan Wood
The Monacelli Press, 2017
Hardcover, 360 pages

Amale Andraos and Dan Wood started WORKac in 2003 after both worked at OMA. They are celebrating fifteen years with this monograph, its title a play on the familiar phrase, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it." The title flip-flop, combined with the way the text snakes itself across the edge of the cover around "WORKac," hints at the firm's sense of humor, the playful nature of their work, and the way the duo upends conventions. The neon orange, green and pink lettering also alludes to the structure of the book: five-year chunks that hinge upon global events circa 2008 ("post-housing bubble") and 2013 ("post-oil-price crash") but also correspond with happenings in the office and in the life of the married partners (notably children and
Continue reading "Book Review: WORKac"

Architects and Birdies

"Pole vaulting in the chapel, bicycling in the laundromat, sky diving in the elevator shaft?" Might Bernard Tschumi have also asked, "Badminton in Rudolph Hall?" I leapt to Tschumi's words when seeing this photo on my Facebook wall, from an article at Yale Alumni Magazine:

[Photo: Bob Handelman, via Yale Alumni Magazine]

Apparently, turning "the Pit" on the fourth floor of the Yale School of Architecture into a badminton court is an annual tradition, with about 50 teams playing nearly 100 games, per the magazine. While the tournament takes over the central crit space a few night per week, students still work around the perimeter and on the mezzanine overlooking it. A view of the pit set up for a crit:

[Photo: Seth Tisue, via Wikimedia Commons]

But the Yale architecture students don't just take over the pit, turning Paul Rudolph's space of education into a
Continue reading "Architects and Birdies"

Mark Yr Calendars: Designing Water

I just learned about Designing Water, a two-day symposium organized by the American Academy in Rome and Longwood Gardens, and taking place at the latter in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, October 17-18, 2018. From the description, it's certainly a timely event:
Water is the most compelling and consequential design matter of the 21st Century. Not just a life source or a source of beauty, water has crucial social, cultural, and symbolic functions and plays an essential role in all living systems.

But when looking at the "international scholars and practitioners in garden design, landscape architecture, urban design, architecture, and ecology" who will convene "to discuss and advance concepts of and strategies for designing water from the scale of a singular garden feature to integrated regional systems," my first thought is, "Who's not participating?" It's quite an impressive list:

A Sculpture Garden Next to the High Line

On Saturday I gave an architectural walking tour of the High Line, the first time I'd given the tour since the fall. Since development along the elevated park continues at a speedy pace, I walked the park early to apprise myself of anything new. What stood out the most was a small gallery building by studioMDA under construction right next to the park on West 27th Street, embraced by Zaha Hadid Architects' 520 West 28th Street. It is one of a number of galleries being created by Related Companies, developer of the ZHA condo building, and will house, according to 6sqft, the Paul Kasmin Gallery. Construction is expected to wrap up later this year.

[Facade on West 27th Street | Image: Studio MDA/ Related Companies; all renderings via 6sqft]

Atop the gallery is a grid of 28 skylights and a green roof doubling as a sculpture garden. Brooklyn's Future Green
Continue reading "A Sculpture Garden Next to the High Line"

Curious Minds

Seeing this photos of MUMA Architects' community center in Cambridge, England, via today's Dezeen Daily...

[Photo: Alan Williams]

...I couldn't help think of this photo of Antoine Predock's Ventana Vista Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona:

[Photo: Timothy Hursley (I think)]

Uniting the two are the small, low apertures that enable children to peer through them, instances captured by both photographers. With that, I decided to look around for similar images, finding the ones below. My point here is that it behooves architects designing early education buildings to cater apertures to curious minds, not just furniture and fixtures. These examples show that many architects are already doing just that.

New Building for Nursery and Kindergarten in Zaldibar by Hiribarren-Gonzalez + Estudio Urgari:

[Photo: Egoin]

El Guadual Children Center by Daniel Joseph Feldman Mowerman and Iván Dario Quiñones Sanchez:

[Photo: Ivan Dario Quiñones Sanchez]

Guardería de Vélez-Rubio by LosdelDesierto:

[Photo: Jesús Granda]

Dancing with Barragán

The timing of this is too good to pass up. Yesterday NOWNESS posted a film by Andres Arochi in which dancers move in slow motion about Luis Barragán's house and studio in Mexico City.

And tonight I'm heading to see Jill Magid's The Proposal as part of the Tribeca Film Festival. In the documentary, part of the larger The Barragán Archives project, the artist "explores the contested legacy of Luis Barragán ... and how his legacy is affected by the fact that a private corporation, Vitra, owns his archives and controls the rights in his name and work." Look for a review of the film in a week or two.

Old+New Book Review: Paul Shepheard

What Is Architecture? An Essay on Landscapes, Buildings, and Machines by Paul Shepheard
MIT Press, 1994
Paperback, 132 pages

Buildings: Between Living Time and Rocky Space by Paul Shepheard
Circa Press, 2016
Hardcover, 180 pages

"There is a scale of things all to do with the land, at on end of which are the forces of nature, the perception of which, at any given place, I would call landscape. At the other end of the scale are the local difficulties solved, and the opportunities opened, by our use of machines — and somewhere in between are the buildings, which, if conceived grandly and accurately enough, can extend outward to embrace each end of the scale. Landscapes, buildings, and machines."
This quote falls on page 41 of What Is Architecture? and it serves as a decent encapsulation of the three subjects Paul Shepheard tackles in the popular book. The
Continue reading "Old+New Book Review: Paul Shepheard"

Of Architecture and Pelicans

Somehow, in the course of reading email, checking Twitter and doing other things on the computer when I got to work this morning, I got off on the tangent of looking at covers of architecture books — specifically those produced by Pelican in the 1950s and 60s.

The small paperbacks, of which I have a two or three, are visually appealing. In turn, the designs of the covers have been compiled on websites and make up many a Pinterest and Flickr board. But most of the attention focuses fittingly on the graphic design rather than the content of the books. Accordingly, Pelican architecture books were scattered here and there.

That's when I decided to find some (though far from all) of the Pelican architecture and urbanism titles, put them together in a grid, and see how they relate to each other. Doing that, I present this grid of 18 books
Continue reading "Of Architecture and Pelicans"

Building Tall in Manhattan, eVolo Style

While four honorable mentions in the eVolo 2018 Skyscraper Competition are focused on Manhattan, only one comes close to approaching a traditional skyscraper. The others, like the first place winner in 2016 that proposed a horizontal skyscraper around Central Park, take a more liberal approach to designing "skyscrapers."

Additive Effect: 3D-printed Skyscrapers:

These skyscrapers littering Manhattan would be built by everybody's favorite 21st-century technology: 3D printing. At such a scale, the towers would take time to "print," so they take on a striated appearance. Yet instead of housing apartments or offices, the skyscrapers would serve as factories for creating cartridges for 3D printing from waste, part of which would be used for the factories' skins. In other words, the towers express what they do — and apparently illustrate a future where just about everything is printed and therefore requires such factories.

Manhattan Ridge: Affordable Housing for Commuters:

Continue reading "Building Tall in Manhattan, eVolo Style"

Book Briefs #35: Better Late Than Never

"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. This installment features books I received years ago but never got around to posting about — until now.

African Modernism: The Architecture of Independence. Ghana, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Zambia edited by Manuel Herz | Park Books | 2015 | Amazon
Although the size of a coffee table book and graced by full-page Iwan Baan photographs, African Modernism is a deep, scholarly work, not just something to flip through. Focused on the five subtitled African countries that gained their independence in the late 1950s and early 1960s (5 of 32 countries on the continent that did
Continue reading "Book Briefs #35: Better Late Than Never"