Made to Measure is a monograph showcasing the work of Leers Weinzapfel Associates, an architecture firm based out of Boston, Massachusetts. Leers Weinzapfel Associates first gained prominence by taking on infrastructure projects that are often left to engineers. Where some might undertake these projects out of consequence, Leers Weinzapfel Associates revels in and seeks out these types of projects. The firm’s ability to finely execute such projects is displayed in the University of Pennsylvania Gateway Complex presented in this book. Although infrastructure projects were their launching point, they now take on an incredibly wide range of projects. In fact, the majority of the projects presented in this book are not infrastructure projects. Perhaps there is something to be said for being able to do the ‘mundane’ well.
Take a look inside after the break.
We recently received the book Reveal: Studio Gang Architects. This monograph takes an in-depth look at several of firm’s extraordinary projects. Archdaily has featured many of the same projects, but our pieces are mere shadows of what is presented in this book. If you enjoyed the glimpses on our website you will love this book. It is rare that I find a monograph that goes into such great depth. Beside the standard plan, section and photographs, each project is accompanied by notes, research, sketches, histories, philosophies, and more. This allows for a much more rewarding conversation than the standard glossy monograph. By the end of each chapter you can easily understand why each design decision was made and how meticulous this studio is. The Aqua Tower, for example, without any additional knowledge holds its own amongst the architecturally cherished Chicago skyline; however, after you read about the design process behind it the tower becomes that much more wonderful. I highly recommend this book.
P.S.: You can watch our interview with Jeanne Gang.
In this book Michael Maltzan holds conversations with a photographer, architects, a landscape architect, a futurists, and a urban planner about Los Angeles’s recent past and its near and distant future. For Maltzan, Los Angeles is currently in a delicate moment of transformation “where past vocabularies of the city and of urbanism are no longer adequate, and at this moment, the very word no longer applies.” In order to guide this transformation in a positive direction Maltzan asserts that “architects, urban theorists, architects, designers, planners, and city leaders requires keen investigation to produce forms that represent this city and and its culture, as opposed to importing other urban models.” The conversations along with the photographs by Iwan Baan presented in this book are part of the keen investigation Maltzan advocates for. This makes for a very engaging book for anyone interested in Los Angeles and shaping the future of cities in general.
I recently read Detail Magazine’s latest issue about Digital Processes. The issue is divided into three parts. The first part deals with digital planning technologies that include mapping techniques for analysis, terrestrial laser scanning, and geographic information systems among others. The second section delves into digital production technologies such as CNC laser cutting, hot wire cutting, and jointed-arm robotics. The final piece brings these together by showcasing six projects that utilize these technologies. In its totality, the issue is a good overall look at the present and future opportunities digital technology offers the profession.
The Green Studio Handbook: Environmental Strategies for Schematic Design / Alison G. Kwok and Walter T. Grondzik
Similar to the first edition published in 2007, the second edition of The Green Studio Handbook offers a useful introduction to green design. As noted in the title the content stays fairly schematic to help guide and introduce green strategies. This book purposely avoids creating a green building checklists and getting bogged down in technical details. In this way the book can cover a wide variety of topics and show how they are interrelated systems. Each strategy is accompanied by a wonderful set of sketches and images that aid in the readers understanding of the basic concepts.
“… if someone who has a valid point of view wants to give it an audience, he has no choice but to start a magazine.”
- Eno Dailor
On Pamphlet Architecture 1-10 
San Rocco Magazine is a new architecture magazine conceived under a five-year plan which researches on their creators fields of interest. Their second issue covers the subject of ISLANDS in whatever meaning you can imagine for the word “island”. As they wrote:
An island is any piece of land that is surrounded by water.
An island is any object lost in an endless extension of a uniform element. As such, the island is isolated.
The island is by definition remote, separated, intimately alternative.
The island is elsewhere.
Islands can be natural or artificial: atolls, rocks, volcanoes, oases, spaceships, oil rigs, carriers.
Based on Gilles Deleuze book, L’île Désert et autres textes, the magazine is divided in two main blocks: oceanic and continental islands. Can we talk, then, about the possibility of architectural islands? More after the break. (more…)
When coming across Delugan Meissl Associated Architects’s newest book I first noticed its sheer weight and size. The second thing I noticed were the words Vol. I. Most architects would be happy/lucky enough to fill a book a quarter the size with their work. The projects range from chairs and small houses to the Porsche Museum and master planning of healthcare campuses. The introduction by Karl Jormakka gives a nice lens in which to view their work. Their work is constantly trying to elicit physiological responses “from a visceral juxtaposition of the human body with the architectural setting,” says Jormakka. In this way their work differs from many of the avant-garde architects who tie their work to French philosophers or abstract ideas from the natural sciences. Viewing DMAA’s work in this light, readers can easily explore how each project attempts to physiologically engage its users.
When I first read John Adams by David McCullough a few years ago I could not decide if I liked Mr. Adams for Mr. Adams or if I liked him for Mr. McCullough’s writing. After viewing Iwan Baan’s newest book, Living with Modernity, I have the same ambiguous feeling about Brasilia and Chandigarh. Baan’s photography of these controversial cities is both subtle and disarming. “[The photographs in this book] do not show how Le Corbusier and Niemeyer thought their cities would look; they show what the cities look like now, fifty to sixty years later.” Without arguing any particular point, Baan documents “what happens when the chilly, impersonal drawing from the past is populated by real, live human beings.” Some discomforting images are reminiscent of what happens when a child places his Tonka Trunk in the middle of an anthill; life follows in and out of structures that relate very little to the realities of daily life. Spaces are simply co-opted for purposes that stand in stark contrast to the intended purpose of the structures. At the same time Baan captures fascinating and brilliant moments of beauty that Niemeyer and Le Corbusier never could have planned for–or the did. As difficult as it is to put stunning photography into words, the short accompanying essay by Cees Nooteboom certainly comes close and is well worth a read. The book closes with a succinct but informative piece by Martino Stierli. Stierli gives the background, historical context, and controversy surrounding the two cities. In the end, I am still ambivalent on whether or not I admire such a ambitious/hubris top-down approach to design, but after seeing the cities in Baan’s book I am certainly fascinated by them—perhaps enough so that I will travel there some day in the future.
Author, architect and materials expert Blaine Brownell recently published a book on his travels to twenty leading material and design innovators in Japan. The book includes interviews with Tadao Ando, Shigeru Ban, Kengo Kuma, Kazuyo Sejima, and others. Brownell took on this journey to discover the connections between materiality and transience in their work. For centuries the Japanese culture has treated materials with an uncommon reverence. Regarded as rich resources of inspiration, materials are consecrated when they are handled or altered according to their “internal voice”. Brownell sought to find how today’s daily inundation of new materials has affected this thoughtful approach. The discussion is carried out with text and stunning photographs that help illustrate his main points.
Table of Contents following the break.
I recently got the chance to review Pamphlet Architecture #30 titled Coupling / Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism. From bringing a terminal lake back to life and using landfills as an open space connectors to actively anticipating the future of the Caspian Sea’s oil rig field and turning Canada’s northern regions into a more active destination, this work explores ways infrastructures can become soft multivalent systems instead of the hard systems we see today. This challenges the antiquated ideas of buildings simply being geometric formal objects. With the interconnected world, buildings themselves have become infrastructural to the larger systems. Keller Easterling states, “No longer simply what is hidden or beneath another urban structure, many infrastructures are the urban formula, the very parameters of global urbanism.”
Table of Contents following the break.
We were quite happy to receive a book on the Aga Kahn 1st prize and shortlist proposals as ArchDaily has followed the 11th award cycle. Beginning with an inspirational foreword, Farrokh Derakhshani explains the importance of such an award as it looks to highlight architecture rooted in an awareness of aesthetics and cultural aspects within the Muslim world. During the 11th award cycle of 2010, the shortlisted projects were shared with the public to promote further discussion. With this in min t,The book offers an indepth look at the 19 projects, complete with the steering committee statement and master jury report.
More about the book after the break. (more…)
A recent issue of Volume titled “Architecture of Peace” asks what role architects can play in promoting peace. This fearless issue makes the squabbling over Steven Holl’s extension to Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art seem rather trivial. Trying to promote peace in war torn areas like Israel, Palestine, Sudan, and South Eastern Europe takes far more courage or hubris than building onto an architectural treasure. The stakes are far higher and the critics far louder. That, however, did not prevent Volume from diving headlong into politically and emotionally charged issues. No single reader will agree with every article in this issue, but Volume’s willingness to openly discuss such volatile and critical topics is what makes this issue so intriguing and captivating to read. Failing to recognize the merit of this work because of disagreements would be an unfortunate error in judgment. At the same time, restraining personal dissent out of respect would be a disservice to this unshrinking issue. This issue begs for dialogue and respectful disagreement. I highly recommend our readers to pick up this issue and continue the dialogue on this very important topic. You might not agree with every article, but keep the dialogue going.
My personal challenge following the break.
Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent to Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbuiser, you can’t understand 20th century architecture without him. In light of this statement it is surprising that few books have dealt extensively with the writings of an architect who chose to list his profession as “Homme de Lettres” (Man of Letters) on his French identity card. Upon reading M. Christine Boyer’s Le Corbusier, Homme de Lettres one immediately realizes how much more fitting this title is for the architectural giant. His prolific literary output included more than fifty books, hundreds of articles, and thousands of letters. It is hard to imagine how his fewer than 60 buildings would have manifested themselves without his written explorations. Writing taught him as much about himself, architecture and urban design as drawing and building. No other book takes this more seriously than Boyer’s recent tome.
There are many aspects to like about this book. I personally enjoyed learning not only what he wrote but what he read. Additionally, Boyer’s effort to assemble Jeanneret’s letter and journal writing in chronological order should not go unnoticed. Although physically heavy this book makes following Jeanneret’s struggles and transformations fairly easy. This would have been impossible without Boyer’s effort. The notes she includes on the debates over the dates of certain letters illustrate how difficult but important this process must have been. So for a fraction of the effort you can get a glimpse into the transformations of a mind that changed how the world views architecture. Despite being far from an expert on Le Corbusier I certainly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in modern architecture, the 20th century, travel, or urban design. It has it all.
Credits, further information and more photos after the break.
Two students, Jarrad Morgan and Christopher Roach, at the Harvard Graduate School of Design shared with us an intriguing book they recently published. The book explores how small autonomous practices can come together as a networked practice “to create a unique value proposition for targeting large commissions and exploiting markets that would be otherwise unavailable.” They chose to take on this topic at a time when most firms exist in one of two extremes; global conglomerate A/E firms or small localized specialty offices. To investigate their hypothesis, they looked at six firms that exhibit many of the characteristics they believe are necessary to be successful as a networked practice. The case study examples include six degrees, over,under, UNStudio, various network and supersudaca.
Dominique Ghiggi, a landscape architect and academic assistant at the Institute of Landscape Architecture in Zurich, has published a book examining the changing relationship between man and nature over the course of history. The work is perfect for those connected with the environment as it examines tree nurseries scattered across the world and their social, economical and contextual significance.
More about the book after the break. (more…)
Architects Andreas Fuhrimann and Gabrielle Hächler recently published a monograph detailing seven buildings and their design philosophy. It is easy to get caught up in the mesmerizing images of this book. With little more than plywood and concrete, they bring spaces to life in a way that few can. They demonstrate how “spatial quality is by no means merely an issue of the materials employed.” That being said, make sure you pull yourself away from the images as the text should not be missed. Besides their own contributions, other authors include, Kurt W. Forster, Marie Theres Stauffer, Gianni Jetzer, and Hubertus Adam.
More on the monograph after the break.
This year DETAIL is celebrating its 50th birthday, and it kicks off the year with an issue about Lightweight Construction. Never failing to impress, this issue left me wanting to know more about the topic’s history and its future. For example, the issue leads with a biographical article of Vladimir Grigor’evic Suchov, perhaps the most prolific engineer that few people outside of Russia have ever heard of. Best compared to giants like Alexander Graham Bell or Gustave Eiffel, architects and engineers are still learning and using construction techniques and principles Suchov contributed over 100 years ago. Starting here, the editors nicely framed the incredibly diverse range of projects that follow. Today’s most creative and innovative lightweight construction projects, from the Trift Glacier Suspension Bridge to the Temporary Bar in Porto, almost seem inevitable after reading the first article.
More on this issue after the break.
“Environmental issues such as sustainability, the protection of resources or reducing emissions have long been the focus of politics, industry and the economy. High time, then, to examine their role in the world of architecture more closely.
The recycling, and with it the re-introduction of materials into the cycle of matter takes place in different forms in the construction industry. The projects presented in the magazine range from the recycling of entire building components (e.g. from concrete), to the use of waste products (e.g. wood) and demolition waste (e.g. stone) or even the completely invisible use of recycling materials like façade panels made from old glass.
In the »Discussion« section, chemist M. Braungart describes the principle of »cradle to cradle«, which questions ecological efficiency and calls instead for intelligent design. He believes that products must be designed so that instead of becoming waste at the end of their lifetime, they can be used to create new things. He shows how this can be done in architecture with several already completed examples.”
Further information, photos, plus the full table of contents after the break. (more…)
After a reflective sabbatical following the 7th issue, The Cornell Journal of Architecture has recently launched itself back on the scene of primer architectural journals. The long awaited 8th issue strives to be “about the now, the new, and the next in architecture, while simultaneously acknowledging that every possible future is intrinsically linked to the existent, to the present and its attendant past. At the heart of issue 8: RE is the understanding that the creative act itself is reiterative; that in rethinking, recombining, reshuffling, recycling, and reimagining aspects of the world around us, we produce work that both belongs to the current moment and establishes new future trajectories.”
Table of Contents following the break.
“From the point of view of Physycs, right now we don’t know what energy really is. We have no evidence that energy comes in small quantities, like drops. What we do know is that all matter is energy in repose and that energy is manifested in lots of forms that are interrelated by numerous mechanisms of conservation.”
Richard P. Feynman, Feynman lectures on physics 
We are all concerned about energy. But when trying to understand all the implications of the energy in our daily life, we rarely go beyond our spending on electricity bills. If you are an architect or engineer it is possible that you pay special attention to this subject while adapting your projects to current standards.
New York architect Thomas Phifer recently published his first monograph and shared the publication with us. The work matches our perception of Phifer’s architecture – elegent and pristine – as the pages are filled with exciting photography, capturing the essence of the buildings in their natural context. As Phifer shared when we interviewed him, “We really seek to open buildings up again…to nature and to the sun, to the sound of the wind; to bring back that sense of nature which is part of architecture.”
More about the monograph after the break. (more…)