This article, by David Brussat of The Providence Journal’s editorial board, first appeared at providencejournal.com.
In a rating of energy efficiency by the Environmental Protection Administration, New York’s venerable Chrysler Building scored 84 out of 100 points; the Empire State Building, 80; but the modernist 7 World Trade Center scored 74 (below the cutoff of 75 for “high efficiency”); the Pan Am Building, 39; Lever House, 20; the Seagram Building, 3. The New York Times reported this story last Dec. 24 under the headline “City’s Law Tracking Energy Use Yields Some Surprises.”
It was no surprise to Nikos Salingaros and Michael Mehaffy, who have investigated why modern architecture thrives despite its inability to live up to any of its longstanding promises — aesthetic, social or utilitarian.
“Space, lines, light and sound” are the essential components of the experience of architecture and the most profound buildings have captured these moments through thoughtfully orchestrated design. Recently, architects that have designed churches with these primary elements in mind have come under criticism by the Vatican for diverting from the traditional form and iconography of churches. According to a recent article in The Telegraph, Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas’ design for a church in Foligno, Italy has been labeled as problematic by the parish and Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican’s Pontificial Council for Culture, for its resemblance to a museum instead of a place of worship – based on traditional Catholic values placed on the altar and imagery. Regardless of the Vatican’s criticism of the aesthetic approach of architects that break with tradition, this seems more of an issue of miscommunication between the architects and the congregations that have commissioned the projects that are being criticized.
More on this after the break.
Merete Ahnfeldt-Mollerup is associate Professor at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. This article originally appeared in GRASP.
Miss Part 1? Find it here.
Architecture is inseparable from planning, and the huge challenge for the current generation is the growth and shrinkage of cities. Some cities, mainly in the Southern Hemisphere, are growing at exponential rates, while former global hubs in the northern are turning into countrysides. In the south, populations are still growing a lot, while populations are dwindling in Europe, Russia and North East Asia. The dream of the Bilbao effect was based on the hope that there might be a quick fix to both of these problems. Well, there is not.
A decade ago, few people even recognized this was a real issue and even today it is hardly ever mentioned in a political context. As a politician, you cannot say out loud that you have given up on a huge part of the electorate, or that it makes sense for the national economy to favor another part. Reclaiming the agricultural part of a nation is a political suicide issue whether you are in Europe or Latin America. And investing in urban development in a few, hand-picked areas while other areas are desolate is equally despised.
Merete Ahnfeldt-Mollerup is associate Professor at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. This article originally appeared on GRASP.
This is where one has to quote William Gibson:”The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
Within architecture (and design and planning), there are always several simultaneous realities. One very pragmatic reason is that architecture is a very slow form of communication: it may take several decades from the moment a concept arises somewhere to the point where it becomes mainstream knowledge within the industry, and then even more time before it reaches the general public.
Take the “Modern Movement” in architecture. Basically, its theories and formal language were fully developed from 1919 through 1924. And when we read the history books, we get this distorted version that the great modernist pioneers were only stopped by the evil dictatorships in the Soviet Union and Germany. This is as far from the reality of the era as it can possibly be.
Keep reading Ahnfeldt-Mollerup’s crash course to architecture, after the break…
This snapshot of a new documentary about mid-century modern architecture in Arkansas illuminates classic post-war designs. Simple, clean lines were often the elements that delineated the aesthetics of these buildings. While many lay in disrepair, they still exude an aura of a time when optimism was reflected in the country’s desire to build a new future. Some of the architectural icons that are featured include the University of Arkansas’s Fine Arts Center by state native Edward Durell Stone, the Tower Building in Little Rock, the Fulbright Library in Fayetteville, and the abandoned Hotel Mountainaire. Check out the short clip of what will air in November on AETN. Also, see the highlights of the current affairs and award winning architecture that is taking place within the state of Arkansas here.
A renaissance through architecture has been unfolding throughout the past several years in Colombia’s second largest city – Medellin. Home to 3.5 million inhabitants it was plagued by violence in the 1980’s and 1990’s. However, through an ambitious plan headed by former mayor Sergio Fajardo, the cityscape has undergone a dramatic shift since his election in 2003. One of the defining principles of this initiative that invested millions into civic architecture and public infrastructure was to build in some of the roughest districts of the city. More details after the break.