The architectural legacy of the Rockefeller family in Manhattan is well-known, most obviously demonstrated in the slab-like Art Deco towers of the Rockefeller Center and the ever-expanding campus of the MoMA. But in a city that is filled with landmarks and historic buildings, it's easy for even the most remarkable projects to go unrecognized. Philip Johnson's Rockefeller Guest House in Manhattan was completed in 1950, just one year after the construction of his better known Glass House in New Canaan. The Glass House is an obvious cousin to the later guest house: both feature largely empty glass and steel boxlike forms, where structural work is exposed and celebrated.
As the dust settled following the Second World War much of Europe was left with a crippling shortage of housing. In Milan, a series of plans were drafted in response to the crisis, laying out satellite communities for the northern Italian city which would each house between 50,000 to 130,000 people. Construction the first of these communities began in 1946, one year after the end of the conflict; ten years later in 1956, the adoption of Il Piano Regolatore Generale—a new master plan—set the stage for the development of the second, known as 'Gallaratese'. The site of the new community was split into parts 1 and 2, the latter of which was owned by the Monte Amiata Società Mineraria per Azioni. When the plan allowed for private development of Gallaratese 2 in late 1967, the commission for the project was given to Studio Ayde and, in particular, its partner Carlo Aymonino. Two months later Aymonino would invite Aldo Rossi to design a building for the complex and the two Italians set about realizing their respective visions for the ideal microcosmic community.
On August 15, 1947, on the eve of India’s independence from the United Kingdom, came a directive which would transform the subcontinent for the next six decades. In order to safeguard the country’s Muslim population from the Hindu majority, the departing colonial leaders set aside the northwestern and eastern portions of the territory for their use. Many of the approximately 100 million Muslims living scattered throughout India were given little more than 73 days to relocate to these territories, the modern-day nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh. As the borders for the new countries were drawn by Sir Cyril Radcliffe (an Englishman whose ignorance of Indian history and culture was perceived, by the colonial government, as an assurance of his impartiality), the state of Punjab was bisected between India and Pakistan, the latter of which retained ownership of the state capital of Lahore. It was in the wake of this loss that Punjab would found a new state capital: one which would not only serve the logistical requirements of the state, but make an unequivocal statement to the entire world that a new India—modernized, prosperous, and independent—had arrived.
Brazilian planner, preservationist and modernist thinker Lúcio Costa (27 Feburary 1902 - 13 June 1998) is best known for his 1957 plan of Brasília that shaped the Brazilian capital into a monument to utopian modernism. A resolute and often controversial figure in the Brazilian establishment, Costa’s contributions to Brazilian architecture helped to shape the distinctive modernism that was practically Brazil’s official style until the 1980s.
B. Alexandra Szerlip gives a free, public talk about her new book, The Man Who Designed the Future: Norman Bel Geddes and the Invention of Twentieth-Century America (Melville House).
A ninth-grade dropout who found himself at the center of the worlds of industry, advertising, theater, and even gaming, Norman Bel Geddes designed everything from the first all-weather stadium to Manhattan’s most exclusive nightclub, to Futurama, the prescient 1939 exhibit that envisioned how America would look in the not-too-distant sixties.
In the 1960s James Stirling asked Ludwig Mies van der Rohe why he didn’t design utopian visions for new societies, like those of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City or Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse. Mies replied that he wasn’t interested in fantasies, but only in “making the existing city beautiful.” When Stirling recounted the conversation several decades later it was to the audience of a public enquiry convened in London – he was desperately trying to save Mies’ only UK design from being rejected in planning.
It couldn’t be done: the scheme went unbuilt; the drawings were buried in a private archive. Now, for the first time in more than thirty years, Mies’ Mansion House Square will be presented to the public in both a forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)—Mies van der Rohe and James Stirling: Circling the Square—and, if it is successful, a book currently being funded through Kickstarter by the REAL foundation.
This essay by Alan Hess about the iconic Capitol Records building in Los Angeles was originally published as "The Architecture of the Capitol Records Tower." It is part of the book 75 Years of Capitol Records, published by TASCHEN, which is scheduled for release in February.
The president of Capitol Records was certain that a serious company could not operate out of a building that looked like the stack of records in a jukebox. So when Welton Becket, the new headquarters’ architect, showed him a model of the multistoried circular tower, Wallichs was annoyed. It would look like an advertising gimmick, Wallichs said, in a city where hot dogs were sold out of buildings shaped like hot dogs. Becket countered that the circular floor plan was more cost-efficient for the amount of usable space than a standard rectangular office building. Unimpressed, Wallichs told Becket to go back and design a conventional building.
The myth that a stack of records inspired the Tower has never died, though. As soon as the building opened, Hollywood columnist Bob Thomas wrote about it as “a monstrous stack of records.” Wallichs went on a public offensive from the start: “There was no intentional relationship between the shape of phonograph records and the circular design of the Tower” he insisted to the Chicago Tribune.
As long as there have been buildings mankind has sought to construct its way to the heavens. From stone pyramids to steel skyscrapers, successive generations of designers have devised ever more innovative ways to push the vertical boundaries of architecture. Whether stone or steel, however, each attempt to reach unprecedented heights has represented a vast undertaking in terms of both materials and labor – and the more complex the project, the greater the chance for things to go awry.
After the earthquake in Skopje in 1963, a slew of foreign architects worked to change the capital into an architecturally dynamic urban landscape. Now, that vision may be obsolete. In Architects of Modernist Skopje Decry Retrograde Remodel, Bojan Blazhevski investigates the overwhelming number of buildings enduring "Skopje 2014" — a remodeling of existing buildings in the capital city. More than 20 modernist buildings have already been made over. Described as "kitsch" by a hostel manager in the city, the project, which aims to draw in more tourists and regain historical elements, has culminated in a neo-classical display. The imitation buildings, however, have produced controversy, with opinions divided on the aesthetic quality of the project.
Alongside Camilla Block and David Jaggers, Neil Durbach of Durbach Block Jaggers has carved out a unique place in Australian architecture. Known primarily for their carefully sculpted modernist houses, the firm's architecture is simultaneously rich in architectural references and thoroughly original. In this interview, the latest in Vladimir Belogolovsky's “City of Ideas” series, Durbach explains the true inspirations behind their work, why these inspirations have little to do with the public descriptions of their projects, and why for him, the intention of all of his architecture “is to win Corb’s approval.”
Neil Durbach: Yes, I first came to Australia as an exchange student while still in high school.
VB: So you have seen the Opera under construction then. How special was that? Did that building change anything in particular in you?
ND: Well, at that time I wanted to be an artist. A friend took me on a boat to see it. It was kind of staggering... And I thought – you know, this is much more interesting than art. And I felt – maybe architecture is what I should pursue.
With the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the great World’s Fairs that had been held around the globe since the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851 lost much of their momentum. With the specter of another global conflict looming like a stormcloud on the horizon in the latter half of the decade, prospects for the future only grew darker. It was in this air of uncertainty and fear that the gleaming white Trylon and Perisphere of the 1939 New York World’s Fair made their debuts, the centerpiece of an exhibition that presented a vision of hope for things to come.
The opening of the Century 21 Exposition on April 21, 1962 transformed the image of Seattle and the American Northwest in the eyes of the world. The region, which had been known until that point more for its natural resources than as a cultural capital, established a new reputation as a center of emergent technologies and aerospace design. This new identity was embodied by the centerpiece of the exposition: the Space Needle, a slender assemblage of steel and reinforced concrete which became—and remains—Seattle’s most iconic landmark.
Blue Crow Media in collaboration with editor Matthew Tempest has produced another alluring map — this time for modernists. The city of choice? Berlin. With its abundance of 20th-century architecture, the Modern Berlin Map highlights the details of fifty prominent buildings.
Molenaar & Co architecten (Rotterdam), Hebly Theunissen architecten (Delft), and landscape architect Michael van Gessel (Amsterdam) have won the 2016 World Monuments Fund/ Knoll Modernism Prize for the preservation and rehabilitation of the Justus van Effen complex in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Originally designed by Michiel Brinkman in 1919-1921 and completed in 1922, the Justus van Effen complex is a strong example of the ideals embodied in the modern movement, particularly with its use of an elevated “street” as a means of facilitating social cohesion, which became very influential for subsequent generations of designers.
Born in the small Swiss city of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris—better known by his pseudonym Le Corbusier (October 6, 1887 – August 27, 1965)—is widely regarded as the most important architect of the 20th century. As a gifted architect, provocative writer, divisive urban planner, talented painter, and unparalleled polemicist, Le Corbusier was able to influence some of the world’s most powerful figures, leaving an indelible mark on architecture that can be seen in almost any city worldwide.
An exhibition highlighting the work of Oskar Hansen (1922-2005), architect, urban planner, and theorist, has opened at the Yale School of Architecture (YSoA) running from 1 September to 17 December 2016.
Oskar Hansen: Open Form traces the evolution of Hansen’s theory of Open Form from its origin in his own architectural projects to its application in film, visual games, and other artistic practices. The exhibition will be on view at YSoA through 17 December in Paul Rudolph Hall, 180 York St. It is free and open to the public Monday-Friday 9.00- 5.00, and Saturday 10.00-5.00.
Modern Regionalism: The architecture of Sarbjit Bahga is a monograph on the selected works of Indian architect Sarbjit Bahga. He has more than three-and-a-half decades of practical experience in designing of various types of buildings, complexes and large campuses. His completed works include an eclectic and impressive range of administrative, recreational, educational, medical, residential, commercial and agricultural buildings. His building designs are innovative and responsive to function, climate and materials. He is a staunch modernist and an ardent, yet not blind, admirer of Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Louis Kahn.
North Korea is one of the few countries still under communist rule, and probably the most isolated and unknown worldwide. This is a result of the philosophy of Juche – a political system based on national self-reliance which was partly influenced by principles of Marxism and Leninism.
In recent years though, the country has loosened its restrictions on tourism, allowing access to a limited number of visitors. With his personal photo series “North Korea – Vintage Socialist Architecture,” French photographer Raphael Olivier reports on Pyongyang’s largely unseen architectural heritage. ArchDaily interviewed Olivier about the project, the architecture he captured, and what he understood of North Korea’s architecture and way of life.