In 2007, when the late Mayor Thomas Menino announced his intentions to demolish Kallmann, McKinnell and Knowles' iconic Boston City Hall, he gave voice to a tragic but all-too-common popular discomfort with midcentury concrete architecture. Concerned that this threat was only the latest symptom of a pervasive misunderstanding of the significance of the concrete tradition, three architects - Mark Pasnik, Chris Grimley, and Michael Kubo - joined forces shortly thereafter to launch "The Heroic Project" and share their appreciation for this unfairly maligned chapter of architectural history. In addition to creating an internet web archive, Pasnik, Grimley, and Kubo jointly authored a forthcoming historical survey, Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston, scheduled to be released by The Monacelli Press in October 2015, which recasts the cultural and political story behind America's concrete heritage.
The monograph is a popular platform for dissemination and debate in the art and design world, yet architectural monographs are often treated with suspicion – viewed more as a self-serving PR exercise. But do monographs actually have a more substantive role within the practice of architecture? This was the backdrop for a discussion entitled ‘Why a Monograph?’ held at Waterstones Piccadilly as part of this year’s London Festival of Architecture. The participants included Jay Merrick, architecture correspondent of The Independent; Simon Henley of Henley Halebrown Rorrison (HHbR); David Grandorge, architectural photographer and Senior Lecturer at London’s CASS; and Ros Diamond of Diamond Architects. The session was chaired by ArchDaily Editor James Taylor-Foster.
In architecture circles, it's a sadly familiar trope: a postwar modernist building by a celebrated architect is slated for demolition, and the only people to come to its defense are not the local community, but the architects and critics who can see past the weathered concrete to the ideals within. But despite this familiarity, it's rare to find a critic with first-hand experience as the user of the building in question, and rarer still for them to have experienced it with the unprejudiced eyes of a child. Such is the case with Alexandra Lange, who went to kindergarten at Josep Lluís Sert's Martin Luther King Jr School in Cambridge. In this article from MAS Context, originally titled "Never-Loved Buildings Rarely Stand a Chance: Josep Lluís Sert in Cambridge" and featuring photographs by Lee Dykxhoorn, Lange recounts her experiences of the school and laments its destruction. The latest issue of MAS Context focuses on the theme of "Legacy" - from the legacy we have inherited from our predecessors to the legacy we are leaving for the future.
It’s a detail too perfect, better suited to a novel. Architecture critic goes to kindergarten at modernist school. Years later, she returns to the city of her birth and discovers the school again, surrounded by construction hoardings, on the brink of destruction. Can she save it? Except that was me, and I was too late.
When Renzo Piano’s addition to the Kimbell opened in late 2013, critical responses ranged from “both architects at the top of their games” (Witold Rybczynski) to “generous to a fault” (Mark Lamster) to “distant defacement” (Thomas de Monchaux). In this excerpt from a special issue of Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston, Ronnie Self gives a deeply considered assessment of the two buildings after a full turn of the seasons. The special issue also includes a review by Christopher Hawthorne of Johnston Marklee's plans for the Menil Drawing Institute, a review by David Heymann of Steven Holl’s expansion of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and an essay by Walter Hood and Carmen Taylor about Project Row Houses. Also featured are interviews of the directors of all four museums and their architects (Piano, Holl, Johnston Marklee, David Chipperfield, and Rice Building Workshop), making for a very comprehensive issue.
Piano’s main task was to respond appropriately to Kahn’s building which he achieved through alignments in plan and elevation and by dividing his project into two major bodies: a concrete walled, glass roofed pavilion facing Kahn and a separate, sod-roofed structure behind that should integrate a significant portion of the project with the landscape and thereby lessen its overall impact. Still, the loss of the open lawn that existed in front of the Kimbell where Piano’s building now stands is regrettable. Kahn’s Kimbell was conceived as a large house or a villa in a park, and unlike much of the abundant open and green space in the Fort Worth Cultural District, that park was actually used. Piano’s new outdoor space is more like a courtyard – more contained and more formal. It is more urban in its design, yet less public in its use.
Aside from lamenting the loss of the open lawn, how might we judge the addition?
Architect + Entrepreneur: A Field Guide to Building, Branding, and Marketing Your Startup Design Business
The inherently dry subjects of business development, marketing, P+L reports, taxes, and insurance are less likely to feed the intellect of the architect than discussions of materiality, parallax, articulation and form. Yet the reality of what it means to practice architecture, by necessity, requires reconciling these two divided worlds. Nowhere is the need to unify them as great as with the startup design business.
Author, award-winning architect and founder of the firm 30X40 Design Workshop, Eric Reinholdt, explores these topics in "Architect + Entrepreneur: A Field Guide to Building, Branding, and Marketing Your Startup Design Business." Part narrative and part business book, Reinholdt advocates new approaches and tools that merge entrepreneurship with the practice of architecture and interior design. The book offers a framework for starting a design practice in the 21st century which leverages the lean startup methodology to create a minimum viable product and encourages successive small wins that support a broader vision enabling one to, “think big, start small, and learn fast.”
Read on after the break for an excerpt from Chapter 2 - Getting Started.
It's common to find an architectural monograph (or three) on an architect's bookshelf. Within the pages of these large, heavy, often expensive tomes lie a formalised portfolio of a studio's professional output, interspersed by essays penned by influential writers, thinkers or practitioners. They are sources of both information and inspiration, bringing architecture from around the world into your personal field of vision.
Recent years have seen a vast number of these types of books published on architects and their practices, begging the question: Why a Monograph? Are they simply part and parcel of a studio's creative process, or necessary tools for communication with the wider world? Perhaps more interestingly, what role does the recording of work in this way have for architects in enabling them to take stock and move forward? It will seek to examine how the print monograph has become a staple tool for self-promotion, reflection, and criticism in a world which is leaning towards a gradual digitisation of the discourse.
In 1982, the billionaire duty-free shopping magnate Chuck Feeney made a decision that would dramatically alter the course of his career and change his legacy forever: he founded a philanthropic organization, The Atlantic Philanthropies, and made a $7 million donation to Cornell University. Two years later, Feeney transferred his entire $1.6 billion stake in his company to The Atlantic Philanthropies (a move that the world did not find out about until 1997), and the organization has since gone on to make $6.5 billion worth of grants, in large part to fund construction projects that changed lives. Now, the organization is winding down, with its planned closure scheduled for 2016. To celebrate almost three and a half decades of giving, the organization has released "Laying Foundations for Change: Capital Investments of The Atlantic Philanthropies." The following excerpt is taken from the book's foreword by President and CEO Christopher G. Oechsli, originally titled "What This Book Is About."
Imagine having the resources to build something that can dramatically alter the lives of people, communities, even nations. Conversely, imagine an unassuming man coming to you and asking what you could build to change many lives, of the people in your community or even your nation. Imagine the possibilities. That’s what this book is about. It’s about fields of dreams, and about the people who were asked to imagine what could be built upon those fields to improve the lives of people, and of the people who come and till those fields and are part of that change. It’s a visual and narrative story of Charles Francis “Chuck” Feeney and The Atlantic Philanthropies and what literally laying the foundations for change means for people and nations.
The prolific body of work produced over the last half century by Moshe Safdie and his firm is somewhat anomalous in the pantheon of high-profile living architects. It is unique in both formal and philosophical terms, nostalgically guided by the ethical precepts of bygone modernist theory while working in architectural languages significantly evolved from midcentury standards. In the course of a comprehensive review of his projects, it is perhaps the very lack of an isomorphic personal signature that makes his celebrity so unique. The Safdie “look” is chameleonic, deliberately adapting to culture and context without suffering from the burden of personal branding, unified by theory and a geometric playfulness that transcends architectural language and affect.
As the location of the world's largest single-purpose gathering of people, the 2013 Kumbh Mela obviously required a significant organizational effort from those charged with planning it - but what is less obvious is exactly how this need to plan can be squared with the nature of the Kumbh Mela itself. Located in the floodplain of the river Ganges, most of the 23.5-square-kilometer area of the festival (commonly referred to as the nagri) remains underwater until a few months before the festival, and organization is at every stage challenged by the uncertainty and ephemerality of the festival itself. In this excerpt from the recently published book, "Kumbh Mela, January 2013: Mapping the Ephemeral Mega City," Rahul Mehrotra, Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard GSD, and Felipe Vera, Co-director of the Center for Ecology, Landscape and Urbanism at UAI DesignLab, explain how infrastructure and street grids are deployed in a way that not only enables the Kumbh Mela festival itself, but enhances its ephemeral and democratic spirit.
Standing at the Kumbh Mela at night looking towards an endless functioning city where the temporary construction of the nagri is fused with the city of Allahabad, there are two things that one cannot avoid asking: 1) How was this enormous city planned in terms of scale and complexity? 2) How is the city actually constructed? One of the most interesting elements about the construction process of the city is that unlike more static and permanent cities—where the whole is comprised of the aggregations of smaller parts, constructed in different moments that are tied together by pre-existing and connecting urban infrastructure—the city of the Kumbh Mela is planned and built all at once, as a unitary effort.
From the publisher. April 2015 issue of a+u is a special issue on Basel-based architects Christ & Gantenbein. The edition features 19 works including Swiss National Museum and Kunstmuseum Basel which they won through competitions in 2002 and 2010, respectively.
The issue features essays by Philip Ursprung, professor at ETH Zurich, Sam Jacob of former FAT Architecture, and Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee. The issue also introduces the discussion between Emanuel Christ, Christoph Gantenbein, and their colleagues Diogo Lopes and Kersten Geers on how they use references in their works.
Moleskine, the go-to brand of sketchbooks beloved by creatives around the world, recently released another title in its Inspiration and Process in Architecture series: Studio MK27, led by architect Marcio Kogan.
The series already features monographs dedicated to Studio Mumbai, Wiel Arets, Dominique Perrault, Zaha Hadid, and others. Studio MK27 joins this prestigious list along with Kengo Kuma, Grafton Architects, Frits Palmboom and Michael Graves, whose monographs were also recently announced by Moleskine.
Read on to find out how you can win a copy of Inspiration and Process in Architecture - Marcio Kogan Studio MK27!
Among the many complex interactions between humans and water in the Ganges river basin, perhaps none is more awe-inspiring than the religious festival of Kumbh Mela, which every twelve years hosts the largest single-purpose gathering of people on the planet, with an estimated 2 million temporary residents and 100 million total visitors in 2013. In the following excerpt from his book "Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India's Ancient River," Anthony Acciavatti recounts the history of this spectacular event, as well as the smaller annual Magh Mela - and explains why even though it is temporary, the huge tent settlement that supports these festivals is not the "instant city" it is often described as, but instead a microcosm of settlement patterns across the whole Ganges.
Dangling at the tip of the Ganga-Jamuna Doab, where the Lower Ganges Canal system terminates, the city of Allahabad overlooks the confluence of the Ganges and Jamuna rivers. While the Jamuna, to the south of the city, runs deep and narrow, the Ganges, to the north and east of the city, runs shallow and wide. Where these two rivers meet (and a third mythical river, the Saraswati), is known as the Triveni or Sangam, the most sacred site within Hinduism.
Every twelfth year, the sleepy university city of Allahabad is transformed into a colossal tent city populated by millions of pilgrims for the Kumbh Mela (literally Pitcher Celebration). And it all seems to happen so fast. After the deluge of the southwest monsoon (June-August), the waters of the Ganges and Jamuna slowly start to recede. A city grid is tattooed into the banks and shoals of the Ganges. Tents and temples pop up in October. Pontoon bridges stretch from one bank of the river to the other and pilgrims begin to arrive in January. Then come reporters and camera crews from all over the world, who come to document the life of what must at first appear to be the world’s largest Instant-Mega-City: a temporary tent city with the major infrastructure of a metropolis.
Few geographies in the world nurture such a rich and complex imaginary as the Ganges River Valley. The heart of Indian Culture, and home to over one quarter of India’s population, the Ganges is one of the most fertile and infrastructure-heavy river valleys in the planet. Its many physical, historical and spiritual natures defy a single interpretation: always in flux, source of life and destruction, and venerated as a Hindu Deity, the Ganges fully embodies the complexities and excesses of the Indian Civilization.
In “Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River,” Anthony Acciavatti orchestrates a magnificent portrait of the Ganges River Basin, and its continuous reinvention as a test-bed for infrastructural innovation. Through the hybrid genre of the Atlas-Almanac-Travelogue, the book unfolds the many nested spatial and temporal scales that characterize this highly contested territory. Those captivated with the planetary urbanization of water will find in this book a timely and relevant volume of encyclopedic ambition and exquisite design.
Marking the 50th anniversary of Le Corbusier's death, Phaidon recently released a second edition of William J R Curtis' seminal book, "Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms." Following in the footsteps of the first edition published in 1986, the book reveals Le Corbusier's works through over 500 images and incisive analysis. The context within which the book will be received is of course very different compared to that of 1986; in the following text, the author explains how Le Corbusier's legacy has changed in the intervening years, but also why the book is needed just as much now as it was back then.
From the Preface to the Second Edition of Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms:
When the first edition of this book was written Le Corbusier had been dead only twenty years. His reputation was in temporary eclipse. Demonized by post-modernist foes and over-simplified by neo-modernist friends, he risked becoming a caricature. At the time it was necessary to rescue him from transient perceptions and to place him in a longer and broader historical perspective. While focusing upon individual works I attempted to reveal Le Corbusier’s recurrent themes, basic types and guiding principles. His architecture was placed in the context of his larger social and cultural projects and related to his general conceptions of society, history and nature. The first edition closed with the declaration: ‘Le Corbusier is himself part of tradition and has even altered the perspective on the distant past. As he slips further into history, his modernity matters less and less: it is the timeless levels in his art which have most to give to the future.’
From the publisher. JA97 is focused on the curving lines and surfaces in architecture. The issue explores the topic through works, an interview, and essays by 10 architects including SANAA, Jun Aoki, TNA, and Junya Ishigami.
The issue, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, also introduces works of architecture with curving lines and surfaces from the past such as Kenzo Tange’s National Gymnasiums for Tokyo Olympics from 1964 and Toyo Ito’s House in Kamiwada from 1977.
From Vitruvius to Le Corbusier, words and writing have always played an essential role in architectural discourse. One could argue that crafting words is akin to orchestrating space: indeed, history’s most notable architects and designers are often remembered for their written philosophies as much as they are for their built works.
With the exception of a few of architecture’s biggest names, the majority of practicing architects no longer exploit the inherent value writing offers as a means for spatial and theoretical communication. This trend is exacerbated by the fact that many architectural schools place little emphasis on the once-primary subjects of history and literature, resulting in a generation of architects who struggle to articulate their ideas in words, resulting in an ever-growing proliferation of ill-defined “archispeak.”
LOBBY is an attempt from students of London’s Bartlett School of Architecture to reclaim the potency of the written word, presenting in their second issue an ambitious array of in-house research and external contributions. The theme is Clairvoyance, and the journal seeks to investigate the ways in which architects are forced to constantly grapple with the possibilities and uncertainties of designing spaces that exist in the intangible realm of the world-to-be.
Cylinders, spheres and cubes are a small handful of shapes that can be defined by a single word. However, most shapes cannot be found in a dictionary. They belong to an alternative plastic world defined by trigonometry: a mathematical world where all shapes can be described under one systematic language and where any shape can transform into another. As digital tools are becoming increasingly complex, this book seeks to use mathematics "as a means to demystify the inner computational workings of digital tools" by proposing a framework to convey mathematical transformations as design tools.
Few in the twentieth century straddled the demarcation between design and architecture as effortlessly – or as successfully – as Ray and Charles Eames. For the Eameses, the distinction was artificial and unhelpful; useful creative thought emerged from a process-based method of problem solving, design solutions addressed and resolved specific needs, and success could be effectively measured by an object’s ability to do its jobs. But while the Eameses were famously weary of design’s historical tendency toward “creative expression,” their work exhibited none of the abject sterility threatened by a devotion to extreme functionalism. They found that delight was itself utilitarian, and an object’s capacity to produce pleasure for its user allowed for the consideration of aesthetics as one metric of serviceability. From this belief in the unity of performance and perception emerged some of the century’s most iconic designs: Case Study House #8, the Molded Plywood Lounge Chairs, and the 670 & 671 Eames Lounge and Ottoman.
The forthcoming An Eames Anthology, edited by Daniel Ostroff and published by Yale University Press, chronicles the careers of Ray and Charles Eames in their pursuits as designers, architects, teachers, artists, filmmakers, and writers. As Ostroff attests, with over 130,000 documents archived in the Library of Congress, the Eameses were nothing if not prolific; this volume, accordingly, is not comprehensive so much as representative, curated to reflect the breadth of interests and accomplishments of the pair.
In preparation for a 1949 lecture at the University of California, Los Angeles on “Advice for Students,” Charles made the following notes on inspiration, methodology, and career strategy. They are excerpted here from An Eames Anthology: