Book Review: Magnetic City

Magnetic City: A Walking Companion to New York by Justin Davidson
Spiegel & Grau, 2017
Paperback, 240 pages

Walking tours and New York City go together as books. Amazon brings up nearly 250 titles in a search for “New York Walking Tour” and I have at least a half-dozen such books in my library. Although there exists such walking tours as Radical Walking Tours of New York City, Beat Generation in New York: A Walking Tour of Jack Kerouac’s City, and Touring Gotham’s Archaeological Past: 8 Self-Guided Walking Tours through New York City, the format lends itself best to architectural tours. The Municipal Art Society put out 10 Architectural Walks in Manhattan in 2009, for instance, and even the AIA Guide to New York City – albeit hardly convenient to carry at 1,088 pages and 2-1/2 pounds – includes numerous walking routes for people to navigate the city while they look at old and new buildings of note.

Magnetic City by Justin Davidson, architecture and classical music critic for New York magazine, would appear to fall into this niche category; after all, it is subtitled A Walking Companion to New York and seven of its eleven chapters are structured as walks around different parts of the city, most in Manhattan. But a few things should tip off readers to his book being different, being more than just walking tours: the size of the book (~7×9″), larger than most guidebooks but still light enough to carry, thanks to lightweight paper and duotone photos; five “interludes” that allow Davidson to expand upon architecture in the city beyond what the boundaries of the seven walking routes; and a lot more text than images, something that inverts or upsets the balance found in most walking-tour books.

Reading the book – which I can attest can be done very easily and pleasingly while out of town – reveals these three tip-offs to be accurate. Davidson’s book is certainly a “walking companion” to parts of the city (it has maps at the start of each chapter and walking directions alongside the text), but it is also a critique of the city’s architectural evolution, a captivating history of some of its places – many unexpected – and, for lack of a less trite term, a love letter to the city he’s called home for much of his life. Delving into the “City of Ideals” chapter, which takes us along 42nd Street from Bryant Park to the United Nations, he discusses what is present as much as what has been gone for ages. Although it made me think we’re missing VR goggles to really immerse ourselves in the historical scenes (in this case, the Crystal Palace sitting on current-day Bryant Park), Davidson’s text capably leads our imaginations into settings that, albeit physically absent, have in some way shaped the city we walk with him.

So although the book is a sequence of walks and interludes geared around physical paths cutting through the city, his writing acts like a companion to the city where its reality, history, imagination, and happenings converge, as if all times exist at once. If Dante is our guide to hell, Davidson is our guide to a city that is sometimes hellish but also beautiful, enduring, and full of contradictions and complications. It’s hard to come away from the book without a greater appreciation of the city and the way its evolved over the centuries. It’s also hard to read the book and not see the ghosts of the past – be they people or buildings – alive in the present-day metropolis.

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Finding Fay: Cooper Chapel

Like E. Fay Jones’s famous Thorncrown Chapel from 1980, the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel is fairly easy to find, given that the building has its own website with directions, the state has historical-marker signs along the roads leading to Bella Vista, Arkansas, and the chapel has even more signs pointing people in the right direction once visitors get closer. Completed in 1988, the Cooper Chapel is tucked behind a strip mall in a wooded area above the shores of Lake Norwood.


[The approach to Cooper Chapel at 504 Memorial Drive | Photo: Google Maps]

Comparisons to Jones’s Thorncrown Chapel, his masterpiece completed in 1980, are bound to happen, especially with a building of almost the same size, serving a similar function, also located in Northwest Arkansas, and expressing many of the same formal characteristics (delicate structure, pitched roof, framing of wooded surrounding through glass walls, etc.). As at Thorncrown Chapel, one passes an office building before arriving at the Cooper Chapel, and like there I’m not sure if it was designed by Jones or not.

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel
[The office | All photos from here on out by John Hill]

The Cooper Chapel also sits at the end of a path gently winding its way through the trees, though it is much more open in its setting than Thorncrown Chapel. Where Thorncrown Chapel’s wood structure almost dissolves into the woods, the solidity of the Cooper Chapel’s front makes it more classically religious and architectural: This is clearly a facade, one that expresses its purpose and is meant to be appreciated.

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

Another notable difference out front is the outdoor vestibule, a relatively deep sheltered space that invites visitors inside.

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

The view upwards in this outdoor space is especially captivating.

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

Of course, what really sets Cooper Chapel apart from Thorncrown Chapel is the steel structure, which is expressed most overtly in its curves overhead. These curves seem to be generated by the rose window that fronts the chapel

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

The rose window – simply an opening, free of color or any other ornament – is repeated inside the chapel, a symbolic shape in the vein of the diamonds repeated in Thorncrown Chapel.

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

The stone walls aligned with the pews and serving as a base for the delicate steel and wood structure above is a detail consistent with Thorncrown Chapel, one that accentuates the view of the trees outside. Yet with a deeply layered structure found at the sides, the lights happen near the base, pointing upwards to highlight the structure after sundown.

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

Patterns of sunlight inside the chapel are a result of the surrounding trees and the building’s structure interacting with each other.

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

My favorite views of the chapel are of the curved structure overhead, Gothic arches in steel that recall French buildings from the 19th century.

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel
Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

As at Thorncrown Chapel, visits cannot circumnavigate Cooper Chapel outside, but views of the side elevations are pleasing, with dense verticals rising above the stone base and curving out to support the roof’s deep overhang.

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

Although not as well known as Jones’s Thorncrown Chapel, the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel (built by her family in her honor) is every bit as exhilarating and calming as his earlier masterpiece.

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Finding Fay: Thorncrown Chapel

Posts have been a little slim lately, owing to being on a family vacation. This week I managed to drag a few non-architects to see two renowned chapels by Arkansan E. Fay Jones, one completed in 1980 and one in 1988. The first is, obviously, Thorncrown Chapel, located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (the second, Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, will be the subject my next post). It’s a building I included last year’s 100 Years, 100 Buildings, but I didn’t get the chance to see it in person until just the other day.


[Spread from 100 Years, 100 Buildings]

Finding the chapel is pretty easy, given that the building has its own website and there explains that “Thorncrown Chapel is located a mile and a half west of Eureka Springs on Hwy 62 West. GPS often does not show the correct location of the chapel. For an accurate map click here.” With a smartphone, that Google Maps link makes navigation easy, as do the historical-marker signs along 62. I’ll admit the winding drive through dense forests is an often breathtaking one – with glimpses of misty foothills and rivers I wasn’t able to catch on camera – and an important part of experiencing the remote chapel.


[The unassuming yet fairly clear entrance to Thorncrown Chapel | Photo: Google Street View]

Before arriving at the chapel, one comes across two other buildings on the property. First is the Worship Center, which Jones designed later with his partner Maurice Jennings. This building, which looks more like a traditional church, was completed in 1989 due to the high demand to use the chapel for weddings and worship services. It is located to the left of the entrance drive and is reached via a small bridge. (Note: Photos from here on out are my own.)

Thorncrown Chapel

Second is a small office that sits by the parking lot, adjacent to the walkway leading to the chapel. I’m not sure if Jones designed it, but the expressive structure certainly fits with Jones’s Wright-inspired yet clearly personal style of architecture. (Note: the foggy effect is due to mist forming on the lens after getting out of the car and stepping into the humidity.)

Thorncrown Chapel

The chapel sits at the end of a slightly winding stone path, a postcard view that is that much better in person.

Thorncrown Chapel

The rain that preceded our visit left some streaks on the glass, making the building a little less transparent than ideal conditions, but my favorite detail still stood out. I’m referring to the hollow steel joints that connect the two halves of the trusses and cross-braces down the middle of the space. In 100 Years, 100 Buildings, I wrote: “[These] smaller diamond-shaped openings are a symbol of the infinite or perhaps the beyond.”

Thorncrown Chapel

Once inside, visitors are asked to be seated, from where they can take photos. This seemed odd at first, but I appreciated it, since people weren’t walking up and down the aisle snapping photos as they glanced up at the lattice-like structure of standard timber.

Thorncrown Chapel
Thorncrown Chapel

In my short stay inside the chapel, my mind seemed to bounce back and forth between calm – just enjoying being in the space – and honing in on the structure’s myriad details. The alignment of the stone base with the pews was one such detail, one that seemed to accentuate the framing of the thick forest through the glass panes above the base.

Thorncrown Chapel

And of course there were the light fixtures mounted to the wood frame, a Wrightian detail that fits with the chapel but doesn’t overwhelm it.

Thorncrown Chapel

There’s no path to circumnavigate the chapel, but it’s still possible to get a glance at the side elevations, where the repetitious verticals almost converge into a solid wall.

Thorncrown Chapel

Heading on our way, we tried to access the Worship Center, but it was closed – one volunteer was in the chapel, so I’m guessing a second would have been needed to give access to both structures.

Thorncrown Chapel

Nevertheless, we could traverse the bridge and peek in the gap between the doors. From even this smallest of glimpses, it was possible to ascertain how this building’s glazed view is about a vista rather than the intimacy of the forest, as in the chapel. In this sense, the two buildings capture these polar qualities of the Ozark landscape that were partly grasped during the drive.

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Finding Fay: Thorncrown Chapel

Posts have been a little slim lately, owing to being on a family vacation. This week I managed to drag a few non-architects to see two renowned chapels by Arkansan E. Fay Jones, one completed in 1980 and one in 1988. The first is, obviously, Thorncrown Chapel, located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (the second, Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, will be the subject my next post). It’s a building I included last year’s 100 Years, 100 Buildings, but I didn’t get the chance to see it in person until just the other day.


[Spread from 100 Years, 100 Buildings]

Finding the chapel is pretty easy, given that the building has its own website and there explains that “Thorncrown Chapel is located a mile and a half west of Eureka Springs on Hwy 62 West. GPS often does not show the correct location of the chapel. For an accurate map click here.” With a smartphone, that Google Maps link makes navigation easy, as do the historical-marker signs along 62. I’ll admit the winding drive through dense forests is an often breathtaking one – with glimpses of misty foothills and rivers I wasn’t able to catch on camera – and an important part of experiencing the remote chapel.


[The unassuming yet fairly clear entrance to Thorncrown Chapel | Photo: Google Street View]

Before arriving at the chapel, one comes across two other buildings on the property. First is the Worship Center, which Jones designed later with his partner Maurice Jennings. This building, which looks more like a traditional church, was completed in 1989 due to the high demand to use the chapel for weddings and worship services. It is located to the left of the entrance drive and is reached via a small bridge. (Note: Photos from here on out are my own.)

Thorncrown Chapel

Second is a small office that sits by the parking lot, adjacent to the walkway leading to the chapel. I’m not sure if Jones designed it, but the expressive structure certainly fits with Jones’s Wright-inspired yet clearly personal style of architecture. (Note: the foggy effect is due to mist forming on the lens after getting out of the car and stepping into the humidity.)

Thorncrown Chapel

The chapel sits at the end of a slightly winding stone path, a postcard view that is that much better in person.

Thorncrown Chapel

The rain that preceded our visit left some streaks on the glass, making the building a little less transparent than ideal conditions, but my favorite detail still stood out. I’m referring to the hollow steel joints that connect the two halves of the trusses and cross-braces down the middle of the space. In 100 Years, 100 Buildings, I wrote: “[These] smaller diamond-shaped openings are a symbol of the infinite or perhaps the beyond.”

Thorncrown Chapel

Once inside, visitors are asked to be seated, from where they can take photos. This seemed odd at first, but I appreciated it, since people weren’t walking up and down the aisle snapping photos as they glanced up at the lattice-like structure of standard timber.

Thorncrown Chapel
Thorncrown Chapel

In my short stay inside the chapel, my mind seemed to bounce back and forth between calm – just enjoying being in the space – and honing in on the structure’s myriad details. The alignment of the stone base with the pews was one such detail, one that seemed to accentuate the framing of the thick forest through the glass panes above the base.

Thorncrown Chapel

And of course there were the light fixtures mounted to the wood frame, a Wrightian detail that fits with the chapel but doesn’t overwhelm it.

Thorncrown Chapel

There’s no path to circumnavigate the chapel, but it’s still possible to get a glance at the side elevations, where the repetitious verticals almost converge into a solid wall.

Thorncrown Chapel

Heading on our way, we tried to access the Worship Center, but it was closed – one volunteer was in the chapel, so I’m guessing a second would have been needed to give access to both structures.

Thorncrown Chapel

Nevertheless, we could traverse the bridge and peek in the gap between the doors. From even this smallest of glimpses, it was possible to ascertain how this building’s glazed view is about a vista rather than the intimacy of the forest, as in the chapel. In this sense, the two buildings capture these polar qualities of the Ozark landscape that were partly grasped during the drive.

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Finding Fay: Thorncrown Chapel

Posts have been a little slim lately, owing to being on a family vacation. This week I managed to drag a few non-architects to see two renowned chapels by Arkansan E. Fay Jones, one completed in 1980 and one in 1988. The first is, obviously, Thorncrown Chapel, located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (the second, Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, will be the subject my next post). It’s a building I included last year’s 100 Years, 100 Buildings, but I didn’t get the chance to see it in person until just the other day.


[Spread from 100 Years, 100 Buildings]

Finding the chapel is pretty easy, given that the building has its own website and there explains that “Thorncrown Chapel is located a mile and a half west of Eureka Springs on Hwy 62 West. GPS often does not show the correct location of the chapel. For an accurate map click here.” With a smartphone, that Google Maps link makes navigation easy, as do the historical-marker signs along 62. I’ll admit the winding drive through dense forests is an often breathtaking one – with glimpses of misty foothills and rivers I wasn’t able to catch on camera – and an important part of experiencing the remote chapel.


[The unassuming yet fairly clear entrance to Thorncrown Chapel | Photo: Google Street View]

Before arriving at the chapel, one comes across two other buildings on the property. First is the Worship Center, which Jones designed later with his partner Maurice Jennings. This building, which looks more like a traditional church, was completed in 1989 due to the high demand to use the chapel for weddings and worship services. It is located to the left of the entrance drive and is reached via a small bridge. (Note: Photos from here on out are my own.)

Thorncrown Chapel

Second is a small office that sits by the parking lot, adjacent to the walkway leading to the chapel. I’m not sure if Jones designed it, but the expressive structure certainly fits with Jones’s Wright-inspired yet clearly personal style of architecture. (Note: the foggy effect is due to mist forming on the lens after getting out of the car and stepping into the humidity.)

Thorncrown Chapel

The chapel sits at the end of a slightly winding stone path, a postcard view that is that much better in person.

Thorncrown Chapel

The rain that preceded our visit left some streaks on the glass, making the building a little less transparent than ideal conditions, but my favorite detail still stood out. I’m referring to the hollow steel joints that connect the two halves of the trusses and cross-braces down the middle of the space. In 100 Years, 100 Buildings, I wrote: “[These] smaller diamond-shaped openings are a symbol of the infinite or perhaps the beyond.”

Thorncrown Chapel

Once inside, visitors are asked to be seated, from where they can take photos. This seemed odd at first, but I appreciated it, since people weren’t walking up and down the aisle snapping photos as they glanced up at the lattice-like structure of standard timber.

Thorncrown Chapel
Thorncrown Chapel

In my short stay inside the chapel, my mind seemed to bounce back and forth between calm – just enjoying being in the space – and honing in on the structure’s myriad details. The alignment of the stone base with the pews was one such detail, one that seemed to accentuate the framing of the thick forest through the glass panes above the base.

Thorncrown Chapel

And of course there were the light fixtures mounted to the wood frame, a Wrightian detail that fits with the chapel but doesn’t overwhelm it.

Thorncrown Chapel

There’s no path to circumnavigate the chapel, but it’s still possible to get a glance at the side elevations, where the repetitious verticals almost converge into a solid wall.

Thorncrown Chapel

Heading on our way, we tried to access the Worship Center, but it was closed – one volunteer was in the chapel, so I’m guessing a second would have been needed to give access to both structures.

Thorncrown Chapel

Nevertheless, we could traverse the bridge and peek in the gap between the doors. From even this smallest of glimpses, it was possible to ascertain how this building’s glazed view is about a vista rather than the intimacy of the forest, as in the chapel. In this sense, the two buildings capture these polar qualities of the Ozark landscape which were partly grasped during the drive.

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via IFTTT

Finding Fay: Thorncrown Chapel

Posts have been a little slim lately, owing to being on a family vacation. This week I managed to drag a few non-architects to see two renowned chapels by Arkansan E. Fay Jones, one completed in 1980 and one in 1988. The first is, obviously, Thorncrown Chapel, located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (the second, Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, will be the subject my next post). It’s a building I included last year’s 100 Years, 100 Buildings, but I didn’t get the chance to see it in person until just the other day.


[Spread from 100 Years, 100 Buildings]

Finding the chapel is pretty easy, given that the building has its own website and there explains that “Thorncrown Chapel is located a mile and a half west of Eureka Springs on Hwy 62 West. GPS often does not show the correct location of the chapel. For an accurate map click here.” With a smartphone, that Google Maps link makes navigation easy, as do the historical-marker signs along 62. I’ll admit the winding drive through dense forests is an often breathtaking one – with glimpses of misty foothills and rivers I wasn’t able to catch on camera – and an important part of experiencing the remote chapel.


[The unassuming yet fairly clear entrance to Thorncrown Chapel | Photo: Google Street View]

Before arriving at the chapel, one comes across two other buildings on the property. First is the Worship Center, which Jones designed later with his partner Maurice Jennings. This building, which looks more like a traditional church, was completed in 1989 due to the high demand to use the chapel for weddings and worship services. It is located to the left of the entrance drive and is reached via a small bridge. (Note: Photos from here on out are my own.)

Thorncrown Chapel

Second is a small office that sits by the parking lot, adjacent to the walkway leading to the chapel. I’m not sure if Jones designed it, but the expressive structure certainly fits with Jones’s Wright-inspired yet clearly personal style of architecture. (Note: the foggy effect is due to mist forming on the lens after getting out of the car and stepping into the humidity.)

Thorncrown Chapel

The chapel sits at the end of a slightly winding stone path, a postcard view that is that much better in person.

Thorncrown Chapel

The rain that preceded our visit left some streaks on the glass, making the building a little less transparent than ideal conditions, but my favorite detail still stood out. I’m referring to the hollow steel joints that connect the two halves of the trusses and cross-braces down the middle of the space. In 100 Years, 100 Buildings, I wrote: “[These] smaller diamond-shaped openings are a symbol of the infinite or perhaps the beyond.”

Thorncrown Chapel

Once inside, visitors are asked to be seated, from where they can take photos. This seemed odd at first, but I appreciated it, since people weren’t walking up and down the aisle snapping photos as they glanced up at the lattice-like structure of standard timber.

Thorncrown Chapel
Thorncrown Chapel

In my short stay inside the chapel, my mind seemed to bounce back and forth between calm – just enjoying being in the space – and honing in on the structure’s myriad details. The alignment of the stone base with the pews was one such detail, one that seemed to accentuate the framing of the thick forest through the glass panes above the base.

Thorncrown Chapel

And of course there were the light fixtures mounted to the wood frame, a Wrightian detail that fits with the chapel but doesn’t overwhelm it.

Thorncrown Chapel

There’s no path to circumnavigate the chapel, but it’s still possible to get a glance at the side elevations, where the repetitious verticals almost converge into a solid wall.

Thorncrown Chapel

Heading on our way, we tried to access the Worship Center, but it was closed – one volunteer was in the chapel, so I’m guessing a second would have been needed to give access to both structures.

Thorncrown Chapel

Nevertheless, we could traverse the bridge and peek in the gap between the doors. From even this smallest of glimpses, it was possible to ascertain how this building’s glazed view is about a vista rather than the intimacy of the forest, as in the chapel. In this sense, the two buildings capture these polar qualities of the Ozark landscape which were partly grasped during the drive.

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via IFTTT

Finding Fay: Thorncrown Chapel

Posts have been a little slim lately, owing to being on a family vacation. This week I managed to drag a few non-architects to see two renowned chapels by Arkansan E. Fay Jones, one completed in 1980 and one in 1988. The first is, obviously, Thorncrown Chapel, located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (the second, Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, will be the subject my next post). It’s a building I included last year’s 100 Years, 100 Buildings, but I didn’t get the chance to see it in person until just the other day.


[Spread from 100 Years, 100 Buildings]

Finding the chapel is pretty easy, given that the building has its own website and there explains that “Thorncrown Chapel is located a mile and a half west of Eureka Springs on Hwy 62 West. GPS often does not show the correct location of the chapel. For an accurate map click here.” With a smartphone, that Google Maps link makes navigation easy, as do the historical-marker signs along 62. I’ll admit the winding drive through dense forests is an often breathtaking one – with glimpses of misty foothills and rivers I wasn’t able to catch on camera – and an important part of experiencing the remote chapel.


[The unassuming yet fairly clear entrance to Thorncrown Chapel | Photo: Google Street View]

Before arriving at the chapel, one comes across two other buildings on the property. First is the Worship Center, which Jones designed later with his partner Maurice Jennings. This building, which looks more like a traditional church, was completed in 1989 due to the high demand to use the chapel for weddings and worship services. It is located to the left of the entrance drive and is reached via a small bridge. (Note: Photos from here on out are my own.)

Thorncrown Chapel

Second is a small office that sits by the parking lot, adjacent to the walkway leading to the chapel. I’m not sure if Jones designed it, but the expressive structure certainly fits with Jones’s Wright-inspired yet clearly personal style of architecture. (Note: the foggy effect is due to mist forming on the lens after getting out of the car and stepping into the humidity.)

Thorncrown Chapel

The chapel sits at the end of a slightly winding stone path, a postcard view that is that much better in person.

Thorncrown Chapel

The rain that preceded our visit left some streaks on the glass, making the building a little less transparent than ideal conditions, but my favorite detail still stood out. I’m referring to the hollow steel joints that connect the two halves of the trusses and cross-braces down the middle of the space. In 100 Years, 100 Buildings, I wrote: “[These] smaller diamond-shaped openings are a symbol of the infinite or perhaps the beyond.”

Thorncrown Chapel

Once inside, visitors are asked to be seated, from where they can take photos. This seemed odd at first, but I appreciated it, since people weren’t walking up and down the aisle snapping photos as they glanced up at the lattice-like structure of standard timber.

Thorncrown Chapel
Thorncrown Chapel

In my short stay inside the chapel, my mind seemed to bounce back and forth between calm – just enjoying being in the space – and honing in on the structure’s myriad details. The alignment of the stone base with the pews was one such detail, one that seemed to accentuate the framing of the thick forest through the glass panes above the base.

Thorncrown Chapel

And of course there were the light fixtures mounted to the wood frame, a Wrightian detail that fits with the chapel but doesn’t overwhelm it.

Thorncrown Chapel

There’s no path to circumnavigate the chapel, but it’s still possible to get a glance at the side elevations, where the repetitious verticals almost converge into a solid wall.

Thorncrown Chapel

Heading on our way, we tried to access the Worship Center, but it was closed – one volunteer was in the chapel, so I’m guessing a second would have been needed to give access to both structures.

Thorncrown Chapel

Nevertheless, we could traverse the bridge and peek in the gap between the doors. From even this smallest of glimpses, it was possible to ascertain how this building’s glazed view is about a vista rather than the intimacy of the forest, as in the chapel. In this sense, the two buildings capture these polar qualities of the Ozark landscape which were partly grasped during the drive.

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Today’s archidose #972

Here are some photos of the Jan Michalski Foundation Library in Montricher, Switzerland, by Mangeat Wahlen Architectes Associés. (Photographs: Trevor Patt)

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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

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Today’s archidose #971

Here are some of my photos of Jenny Sabin Studio’s Lumen at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens, on display until September 4, 2017.

Lumen
Lumen
Lumen
Lumen
Lumen
Lumen
Lumen

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:

:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool

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:: Tag your photos #archidose

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Book Review: Thirtyfour Campgrounds

Thirtyfour Campgrounds by Martin Hogue
MIT Press, 2016
Hardcover, 266 pages

It’s summer, which means – deer ticks be damned – it’s time to get outdoors. For many, getting outside equates with camping, which in the United States most likely means heading to one of the thousands of campgrounds run by KOA (Kampgrounds of America) or some other private or government operator. Catered to people with as little as a car and a tent or as much as an RV with all its trimmings, campgrounds are places that most people take for granted; they provide a number of home-like amenities but also act as starting points for venturing into more untamed nature via hiking, fishing, and other activities. As depicted in Martin Hogue’s clinically artistic Thirtyfour Campgrounds, they are places of potential, of “civilization” interfacing with “nature” so people can get away from the former and explore the latter.

One of the most telling photographs in the introduction to Hogue’s book is Bruce Davidson’s “The Trip West. Camp Ground no. 4.”, taken in Yosemite National Park in 1966. Eight people (a family? four couples?) sit in lawn chairs facing the camera, with a backdrop of cars and campers extending their conveniences (grill, scooter, high chair, Ritz crackers, televisions) deep into the rest of the campground. It’s evident that nature is not a setting for new activities; it is merely a backdrop for the same old domesticated activities. Considering how much our lives – now fifty years later – are spent indoors, part of me likes this idea, that being outdoors in any guise is healthier for us than being indoors. But the rest of me sees the obvious philosophical quandary here: Shouldn’t nature be a place to escape from our commodified existence? Or have our lives become so intertwined with our belongings that our belongings must extend into nature as far as possible via campgrounds and other settings?


[Bruce Davidson, USA. 1966. The Trip West. Camp Ground no.4. Yosemite National Park. © Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos]

Most of Hogue’s book resembles the cover, which depicts Duck Creek (Utah), one of the 34 campgrounds documented through photographs of individual campsites from reserveamerica.com and recreation.gov. In the case of Duck Creek there are 58 campsites, while other campgrounds have more – as many as 501 campsites, at Cheney State Park in Kansas. Given that the nearly 6,500 photos in the book are culled from online resources that serve to give campers a sense of what each campsite offers, there is a consistency – mind-numbing at times – within each campground. Branched Oak State Recreational Area (Nebraska), for instance, just shows one patch of asphalt driveway after another, while Seawall in Maine’s Acadia National Park is littered with colorful tents and some RVs – but, oddly, no humans. Although I can’t imagine anybody outside of the author examining each photo in Thirtyfour Campgrounds one by one, the differences between one campground and the next are obvious from just a quick scan of the book.

Before delving into the presentation of the campgrounds, which recalls Ed Ruscha’s Thirtyfour Parking Lots in name and the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher in format, Hogue lays out his analysis through diagrams, photographs, and texts that touch upon the history of the campground and the geography of camping. These give the campground photographs that follow a strong theoretical footing, while the admitted influence of Ruscha and the Bechers lend the project its artistic bent. Ruscha’s documentation of parking lots is particularly relevant, considering that campsites are basically parking spaces that campers use for a few days. That Walmart opened up its parking lots to RVs in 2001 (a fact mentioned by Hogue more than once), it’s clear that campgrounds are the story of automobiles colliding with the American landscape. With wireless access standard at most campsites, we’re now witnessing the collision of communications technology with campgrounds. While this might mean campers don’t need to haul as much stuff as in decades past, it also means we leave even less of our daily lives behind when we get out into nature – or what’s left of it.

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Today’s archidose #970

Here are some photos of Studio Gang’s Hive at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. The installation is on display until September 4, 2017. (Photographs: Mark Andre)

The Hive
Hive DC
The Hive
Hive DC
Hive DC
The Hive
The Hive
Hive DC
Hive DC

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Book Review: The American Idea of Home

The American Idea of Home: Conversations About Architecture and Design by Bernard Friedman
University of Texas Press, 2017
Hardcover, 228 pages

In 2012 Bernard Friedman put out American Homes, billed as “1800 years of American residential architecture in 11 minutes.” Started in 2006, the short film owed much to the work of Lester Walker, particularly his book American Homes: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Domestic Architecture, as well as a bevy of architects that he interviewed “to give the audience a glimpse into the many decisions that go into designing a home,” per the introduction to his new book on the subject. I was not familiar with the documentary (its trailer is below), but the interview transcripts assembled in The American Idea of Home make clear that Friedman’s film had to leave out much of what he learned from Walker, Richard Meier, Kenneth Frampton, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Tracy Kidder, Paul Goldberger, Thom Mayne, and other familiar names in architecture, residential and otherwise.

The new book includes thirty of Friedman’s interviews in five sections: the Functions and Meanings of Home; History, Tradition, Change; Activism, Sustainability, Environment; Cities, Suburbs, Region; and Technology, Innovation, Materials. Like any book that goes this route, there is plenty of overlap in these sections, be it in the themes, the voices fitted into this or that section, or their responses to Friedman’s questions. As an entrepreneur and filmmaker (read: not an architect), Friedman’s questions are not overly academic, which is refreshing and makes the book an enjoyable read overall. That said, it’s clear Friedman knows his stuff, in terms of both architecture and the architects he spoke with.

Highlights are many, but some of them include Lester Walker, whose great books and drawings influenced Friedman; Kenneth Frampton, an outspoken proponent of collective housing over single-family housing; Douglas Garofalo, the Chicago architect who died in 2011, not long after their interview; Andrew Freear, the head of Rural Studio, which is now focused on low-cost ($20K) houses; and David Salmela, the great Minnesota architect who’s not afraid of pitched roofs. Those hoping to see examples of the architects’ work will be disappointed, though, since each interview is accompanied by only one photo each, their subjects drawn from something said in the interview. This is a statement of fact rather than a criticism, since it makes sense that words are given priority in a book of interviews, here giving readers plenty to think about relative to the broad topic of how people live in the United States.

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Book Review: Welcome to Your World

Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives by Sarah Williams Goldhagen
Harper, 2017
Hardcover, 348 pages

Welcome to Your World is critic and educator Sarah William Goldhagen’s attempt to succinctly and clearly distill voluminous research on neuroscience and architecture toward the improvement of buildings and cities. It’s a welcome book that makes an otherwise impenetrable topic accessible to a wider audience.

But before diving into this book review, a personal aside: Although I didn’t know it so well at the time (the first half of the 1990s), the school I attended for undergraduate architecture was particularly strong in environment-behavior studies. Thing is, Deconstructivist architecture was all the rage at the time, and like anywhere, striving to create something new and personal in architecture studio trumped the learning taking place in other classes, be it history, structures, or MEP.

Kansas State University was, and still is, home to David Seamon, a prolific author on phenomenology, as well as Dick Hoag, whose Environment & Behavior classes were some of my favorites, and Robert Condia, who has delved recently into neuroscience. Although searches for novel forms in studio often took priority, the teachings of these three (and others) have stayed with me over the years, and these days they tend to enter my psyche more frequently. Perhaps this is due to the cyclical nature of architectural practice, which veers back and forth between social and formal considerations; or maybe it’s the increasing relevance of (neuro)scientific studies related to architecture, which haven’t been as well considered since the 1970s and the short-lived influence of environmental psychology (all of the E&B textbooks seemed to come from that period). Whatever the case, this aside stems from the numerous overlaps found between my undergraduate education and the ideas Goldhagen explores in her book.

One reason I bring up my architectural background is because Goldhagen argues that, among other things, the design professionals shaping our homes, places of work and play, and so on should “be thoroughly schooled in the evolving body of knowledge in environmental aesthetics and experiential design.” Her argument is predicated, first and foremost, on breaking down the barriers between building and architecture (and with it the belief, I presume, that only people paying A LOT of money get the latter, the experientially richer part of the built environment), but then calling on the whole built environment to be designed by people with this “evolving body of knowledge.” Like the book, which presents the good and bad of design and argues skillfully why everybody should care, this point reaches for the stars. As I type it here, though, it also comes off as a bit naive; reorienting architectural education seems to be an insurmountable task, especially when considering my education, which had some of that learning already but didn’t incorporate it directly (enough, at least) into architectural studio, where so much effort is expended by students.

That said, many schools are heading in the right direction anyways, particularly through the flowering of design-build programs that expose students not only to construction but also actual clients. Although Goldhagen does not broach this aspect of architectural education (her book is more about arguments for making better environments than dealing with how that actually happens), it’s hard to deny the impact of such projects as (to toot KSU’s horn again) Design Make Studio’s affordable housing at 7509 Pennsylvania Avenue in Kansas City, which capably balances architectural expression and experiential richness like so many other design-build projects around the country.

Of course, education does not stop at graduation, so there is no reason registered architects, like myself, cannot learn the necessary lessons about “environmental aesthetics and experiential design” in order to apply principles culled from neuroscience and other related fields to practice. Heck, why not make relevant information in this area a subset of the learning units architects need to maintain licensure? Architects need the depth of well-researched studies to better shape our lives, but clients need only pick up Goldhagen’s book to be convinced the efforts are worthwhile.

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Book Review: Welcome to Your World

Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives by Sarah Williams Goldhagen
Harper, 2017
Hardcover, 348 pages

Welcome to Your World is critic and educator Sarah William Goldhagen’s attempt to succinctly and clearly distill voluminous research on neuroscience and architecture toward the improvement of buildings and cities. It’s a welcome book that makes an otherwise impenetrable topic accessible to a wider audience.

But before diving into this book review, a personal aside: Although I didn’t know it so well at the time (the first half of the 1990s), the school I attended for undergraduate architecture was particularly strong in environment-behavior studies. Thing is, Deconstructivist architecture was all the rage at the time, and like anywhere, striving to create something new and personal in architecture studio trumped the learning taking place in other classes, be it history, structures, or MEP.

Kansas State University was, and still is, home to David Seamon, a prolific author on phenomenology, as well as Dick Hoag, whose Environment & Behavior classes were some of my favorites, and Robert Condia, who has delved recently into neuroscience. Although searches for novel forms in studio often took priority, the teachings of these three (and others) have stayed with me over the years, and these days they tend to enter my psyche more frequently. Perhaps this is due to the cyclical nature of architectural practice, which veers back and forth between social and formal considerations; or maybe it’s the increasing relevance of (neuro)scientific studies related to architecture, which haven’t been as well considered since the 1970s and the short-lived influence of environmental psychology (all of the E&B textbooks seemed to come from that period). Whatever the case, this aside stems from the numerous overlaps found between my undergraduate education and the ideas Goldhagen explores in her book.

One reason I bring up my architectural background is because Goldhagen argues that, among other things, the design professionals shaping our homes, places of work and play, and so on should “be thoroughly schooled in the evolving body of knowledge in environmental aesthetics and experiential design.” Her argument is predicated, first and foremost, on breaking down the barriers between building and architecture (and with it the belief, I presume, that only people paying A LOT of money get the latter, the experientially richer part of the built environment), but then calling on the whole built environment to be designed by people with this “evolving body of knowledge.” Like the book, which presents the good and bad of design and argues skillfully why everybody should care, this point reaches for the stars. As I type it here, though, it also comes off as a bit naive; reorienting architectural education seems to be an insurmountable task, especially when considering my education, which had some of that learning already but didn’t incorporate it directly (enough, at least) into architectural studio, where so much effort is expended by students.

That said, many schools are heading in the right direction anyways, particularly through the flowering of design-build programs that expose students not only to construction but also actual clients. Although Goldhagen does not broach this aspect of architectural education (her book is more about arguments for making better environments than dealing with how that actually happens), it’s hard to deny the impact of such projects as (to toot KSU’s horn again) Design Make Studio’s affordable housing at 7509 Pennsylvania Avenue in Kansas City, which capably balances architectural expression and experiential richness like so many other design-build projects around the country.

Of course, education does not stop at graduation, so there is no reason registered architects, like myself, cannot learn the necessary lessons about “environmental aesthetics and experiential design” in order to apply principles culled from neuroscience and other related fields to practice. Heck, why not make relevant information in this area a subset of the learning units architects need to maintain licensure? Architects need the depth of well-researched studies to better shape our lives, but clients need only pick up Goldhagen’s book to be convinced the efforts are worthwhile.

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Book Review: Welcome to Your World

Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives by Sarah Williams Goldhagen
Harper, 2017
Hardcover, 348 pages

Welcome to Your World is critic and educator Sarah William Goldhagen’s attempt to succinctly and clearly distill voluminous research on neuroscience and architecture toward the improvement of buildings and cities. It’s a welcome book that makes an otherwise impenetrable topic accessible to a wider audience.

But before diving into this book review, a personal aside: Although I didn’t know it so well at the time (the first half of the 1990s), the school I attended for undergraduate architecture was particularly strong in environment-behavior studies. Thing is, Deconstructivist architecture was all the rage at the time, and like anywhere, striving to create something new and personal in architecture studio trumped the learning taking place in other classes, be it history, structures, or MEP.

Kansas State University was, and still is, home to David Seamon, a prolific author on phenomenology, as well as Dick Hoag, whose Environment & Behavior classes were some of my favorites, and Robert Condia, who has delved recently into neuroscience. Although searches for novel forms in studio often took priority, the teachings of these three (and others) have stayed with me over the years, and these days they tend to enter my psyche more frequently. Perhaps this is due to the cyclical nature of architectural practice, which veers back and forth between social and formal considerations; or maybe it’s the increasing relevance of (neuro)scientific studies related to architecture, which haven’t been as well considered since the 1970s and the short-lived influence of environmental psychology (all of the E&B textbooks seemed to come from that period). Whatever the case, this aside stems from the numerous overlaps found between my undergraduate education and the ideas Goldhagen explores in her book.

One reason I bring up my architectural background is because Goldhagen argues that, among other things, the design professionals shaping our homes, places of work and play, and so on should “be thoroughly schooled in the evolving body of knowledge in environmental aesthetics and experiential design.” Her argument is predicated, first and foremost, on breaking down the barriers between building and architecture (and with it the belief, I presume, that only people paying A LOT of money get the latter, the experientially richer part of the built environment), but then calling on the whole built environment to be designed by people with this “evolving body of knowledge.” Like the book, which presents the good and bad of design and argues skillfully why everybody should care, this point reaches for the stars. As I type it here, though, it also comes off as a bit naive; reorienting architectural education seems to be an insurmountable task, especially when considering my education, which had some of that learning already but didn’t incorporate it directly (enough, at least) into architectural studio, where so much effort is expended by students.

That said, many schools are heading in the right direction anyways, particularly through the flowering of design-build programs that expose students not only to construction but also actual clients. Although Goldhagen does not broach this aspect of architectural education (her book is more about arguments for making better environments than dealing with how that actually happens), it’s hard to deny the impact of such projects as (to toot KSU’s horn again) Design Make Studio’s affordable housing at 7509 Pennsylvania Avenue in Kansas City, which capably balances architectural expression and experiential richness like so many other design-build projects around the country.

Of course, education does not stop at graduation, so there is no reason registered architects, like myself, cannot learn the necessary lessons about “environmental aesthetics and experiential design” in order to apply principles culled from neuroscience and other related fields to practice. Heck, why not make relevant information in this area a subset of the learning units architects need to maintain licensure? Architects need the depth of well-researched studies to better shape our lives, but clients need only pick up Goldhagen’s book to be convinced the efforts are worthwhile.

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Book Review: Welcome to Your World

Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives by Sarah Williams Goldhagen
Harper, 2017
Hardcover, 348 pages

Welcome to Your World is critic and educator Sarah William Goldhagen’s attempt to succinctly and clearly distill voluminous research on neuroscience and architecture toward the improvement of buildings and cities. It’s a welcome book that makes an otherwise impenetrable topic accessible to a wider audience.

But before diving into this book review, a personal aside: Although I didn’t know it so well at the time (the first half of the 1990s), the school I attended for undergraduate architecture was particularly strong in environment-behavior studies. Thing is, Deconstructivist architecture was all the rage at the time, and like anywhere, striving to create something new and personal in architecture studio trumped the learning taking place in other classes, be it history, structures, or MEP.

Kansas State University was, and still is, home to David Seamon, a prolific author on phenomenology, as well as Dick Hoag, whose Environment & Behavior classes were some of my favorites, and Robert Condia, who has delved recently into neuroscience. Although searches for novel forms in studio often took priority, the teachings of these three (and others) have stayed with me over the years, and these days they tend to enter my psyche more frequently. Perhaps this is due to the cyclical nature of architectural practice, which veers back and forth between social and formal considerations; or maybe it’s the increasing relevance of (neuro)scientific studies related to architecture, which haven’t been as well considered since the 1970s and the short-lived influence of environmental psychology (all of the E&B textbooks seemed to come from that period). Whatever the case, this aside stems from the numerous overlaps found between my undergraduate education and the ideas Goldhagen explores in her book.

One reason I bring up my architectural background is because Goldhagen argues that, among other things, the design professionals shaping our homes, places of work and play, and so on should “be thoroughly schooled in the evolving body of knowledge in environmental aesthetics and experiential design.” Her argument is predicated, first and foremost, on breaking down the barriers between building and architecture (and with it the belief, I presume, that only people paying A LOT of money get the latter, the experientially richer part of the built environment), but then calling on the whole built environment to be designed by people with this “evolving body of knowledge.” Like the book, which presents the good and bad of design and argues skillfully why everybody should care, this point reaches for the stars. As I type it here, though, it also comes off as a bit naive; reorienting architectural education seems to be an insurmountable task, especially when considering my education, which had some of that learning already but didn’t incorporate it directly (enough, at least) into architectural studio, where so much effort is expended by students.

That said, many schools are heading in the right direction anyways, particularly through the flowering of design-build programs that expose students not only to construction but also actual clients. Although Goldhagen does not broach this aspect of architectural education (her book is more about arguments for making better environments than dealing with how that actually happens), it’s hard to deny the impact of such projects as (to toot KSU’s horn again) Design Make Studio’s affordable housing at 7509 Pennsylvania Avenue in Kansas City, which capably balances architectural expression and experiential richness like so many other design-build projects around the country.

Of course, education does not stop at graduation, so there is no reason registered architects, like myself, cannot learn the necessary lessons about “environmental aesthetics and experiential design” in order to apply principles culled from neuroscience and other related fields to practice. Heck, why not make relevant information in this area a subset of the learning units architects need to maintain licensure? Architects need the depth of well-researched studies to better shape our lives, but clients need only pick up Goldhagen’s book to be convinced the efforts are worthwhile.

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Book Review: Welcome to Your World

Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives by Sarah Williams Goldhagen
Harper, 2017
Hardcover, 348 pages

Welcome to Your World is critic and educator Sarah William Goldhagen’s attempt to succinctly and clearly distill voluminous research on neuroscience and architecture toward the improvement of buildings and cities. It’s a welcome book that makes an otherwise impenetrable topic accessible to a wider audience.

But before diving into this book review, a personal aside: Although I didn’t know it so well at the time (the first half of the 1990s), the school I attended for undergraduate architecture was particularly strong in environment-behavior studies. Thing is, Deconstructivist architecture was all the rage at the time, and like anywhere, striving to create something new and personal in architecture studio trumped the learning taking place in other classes, be it history, structures, or MEP.

Kansas State University was, and still is, home to David Seamon, a prolific author on phenomenology, as well as Dick Hoag, whose Environment & Behavior classes were some of my favorites, and Robert Condia, who has delved recently into neuroscience. Although searches for novel forms in studio often took priority, the teachings of these three (and others) have stayed with me over the years, and these days they tend to enter my psyche more frequently. Perhaps this is due to the cyclical nature of architectural practice, which veers back and forth between social and formal considerations; or maybe it’s the increasing relevance of (neuro)scientific studies related to architecture, which haven’t been as well considered since the 1970s and the short-lived influence of environmental psychology (all of the E&B textbooks seemed to come from that period). Whatever the case, this aside stems from the numerous overlaps found between my undergraduate education and the ideas Goldhagen explores in her book.

One reason I bring up my architectural background is because Goldhagen argues that, among other things, the design professionals shaping our homes, places of work and play, and so on should “be thoroughly schooled in the evolving body of knowledge in environmental aesthetics and experiential design.” Her argument is predicated, first and foremost, on breaking down the barriers between building and architecture (and with it the belief, I presume, that only people paying A LOT of money get the latter, the experientially richer part of the built environment), but then calling on the whole built environment to be designed by people with this “evolving body of knowledge.” Like the book, which presents the good and bad of design and argues skillfully why everybody should care, this point reaches for the stars. As I type it here, though, it also comes off as a bit naive; reorienting architectural education seems to be an insurmountable task, especially when considering my education, which had some of that learning already but didn’t incorporate it directly (enough, at least) into architectural studio, where so much effort is expended by students.

That said, many schools are heading in the right direction anyways, particularly through the flowering of design-build programs that expose students not only to construction but also actual clients. Although Goldhagen does not broach this aspect of architectural education (her book is more about arguments for making better environments than dealing with how that actually happens), it’s hard to deny the impact of such projects as (to toot KSU’s horn again) Design Make Studio’s affordable housing at 7509 Pennsylvania Avenue in Kansas City, which capably balances architectural expression and experiential richness like so many other design-build projects around the country.

Of course, education does not stop at graduation, so there is no reason registered architects, like myself, cannot learn the necessary lessons about “environmental aesthetics and experiential design” in order to apply principles culled from neuroscience and other related fields to practice. Heck, why not make relevant information in this area a subset of the learning units architects need to maintain licensure? Architects need the depth of well-researched studies to better shape our lives, but clients need only pick up Goldhagen’s book to be convinced the efforts are worthwhile.

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Today’s archidose #969

Here are some of my photos of The Connective Project (2017) by Reddymade Architecture and Design with AREA4 at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, July 7 to July 17, 2017. See also my post at World-Architects for more information on the installation.

The Connective Project
The Connective Project
The Connective Project
The Connective Project
The Connective Project
The Connective Project

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:

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A Hidden Gem in a Westport Forest

Over the weekend, with the help of a friend’s car, I decided to take my wife and daughter to Grace Farms, the SANAA building in New Canaan, Connecticut, that I was able to visit (and write about) when it opened in 2015. But on the way there we first stopped to see Victor Lundy’s First Unitarian Church in Westport, which I learned about the day before when a quick Google search for “modern Connecticut architecture” brought me to the Westport Historical Society. The image of the church on that page – like a viking ship moored in a forest – was enough to convince me to visit.
First Unitarian Church

In reality the building does not disappoint. But before reaching the peak of the roof nestled amongst the trees, as in the photo above, we had to walk from the parking lot past two classroom wings that extend in a “V” formation from the sanctuary space. From here, the building felt much like a resort, with its low-slung roof, stone walls, subtly curved glulam beams, and deep overhangs protecting the glass walls.
First Unitarian Church

The triangular outdoor space – combined with the peak of the roof rising in the distance – made it pretty clear where we needed to go.
First Unitarian Church

Once inside, the logic of the architecture is laid out clearly: the curved glulam beams progressively rising toward the peak; the glass walls framing the trees outside, and the gap between the two sides of the wooden roof bringing in light from above. This is, without a doubt, a sacred space, but one rooted in its place.
First Unitarian Church

Looking away from the pulpit, back toward the entrance, the gradual rise of the beams is more pronounced, as is the (lower) illuminated gap between the roofs.
First Unitarian Church

The roofs continue outside, beyond the vertical “zipper” of glass behind the pulpit. From here, looking up, the wooden underside changes to metal past the most upright of the glulam beams.
First Unitarian Church

On top of the roof are shingles – simple yet entirely suitable given the roof’s parabolic form.
First Unitarian Church

Stepping stones set into the moss-covered ground lead from the walkways around the sanctuary to small burial plots (for cremated remains, I presume) that are set among the trees. Occasionally there is a bench – such as one for victims of September 11 – that is oriented back to the church to frame a view of its impressive roof.
First Unitarian Church

Heading back to the car we decided to walk along one of the walkways outside of the building, rather than back through the sanctuary. Glass doors that gave views into the sanctuary, like the one below, must serve to greater connect the congregation to its beautiful surroundings during services.
First Unitarian Church

This last view is looking along that walkway toward the peak of the roof.
First Unitarian Church

Lundy designed the church in 1959, won a P/A Award for it in 1960, and wrapped up construction on it in 1965. Perhaps because his output was so varied (witness this “inflatable” for the 1964 World’s Fair), Lundy is not so as known as many of his contemporaries. As Mimi Zeiger put it in her 2008 Dwell story on Lundy, “Victor Victorious,”: “What makes [his] low profile surprising, is that Lundy, as much as his distinguished colleagues, experimented with and redefined modernism in the sixties and seventies.” The First Unitarian Church is but one example of this, and one worth visiting as much as Grace Farms, Philip Johnson’s Glass House, and other better known works of modern architecture in Southwestern Connecticut.

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What Did YOU Do on My Summer Break?

This blog is going on a mini summer vacation for a couple weeks, so I’m highlighting a handful of architectural events taking place in New York City in that time – with one a nice scenic drive up north. If you don’t see anything of interest, head over to New York Architecture Diary for more comprehensive listings.

From June 22
Kaneji Domoto at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonia
Center for Architecture, Manhattan
Unlike such exhibitions as Frank Lloyd Wright at 150, which celebrate Wright’s output on his sesquicentennial, this exhibition curated by Lynnette Widder focuses on the contribution of one of his apprentices, Kaneji Domoto, who designed a handful of the 47 houses at Usonia in Westchester County.

June 27
Sarah Williams Goldhagen Book Talk: Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives
Skyscraper Museum, Manhattan

I’ve been slowly making my way through this enjoyable and thought-provoking book about how new discoveries in cognitive psychology and neuroscience could positively shape the built environment – if architects and clients were willing to take them seriously. I’ll have a review of Welcome to Your World soon after this blog’s summer break.

From June 29
Young Architects Program 2017: Lumen by Jenny Sabin Studio
MoMA PS1, Long Island City

The annual installation covering the PS1 courtyard with shade and some water returns with a digitally knitted canopy and misting stalactites. The installation will serve as the setting for the museum’s Warm Up series, when the glowing fabric should add a layer of interest to those dance parties.

July 11
Van Alen Book Club: The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
Van Alen Institute, Manhattan
What better way to beat the heat than head indoors and talk about climate change through the lens of the ever-prescient J.G. Ballard. Tickets are required, though the event is free, and dinner and drinks will be provided.

July 15
Garden Dialogue 2017: Vermont
South Londonderry, Vermont

In this TCLF program, landscape architect Robin Key (RKLA) and stone artist Dan Snow host a “garden dialogue” on Key’s Vermont property. Together with Snow over the course of some decades, Key “has seamlessly woven a contemporary aesthetic into the historic fabric of [Winhall] Hollow.” For those in search of learning units, 2.0 LA CES™ Professional development hours will be available to attendees.

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