The Portland Problem: $95 Million for a Hated Building?

The Building in 1982. Image © Steve Morgan via Wikimedia Commons

In a provocative article,The Atlantic Cities explores the dilemma which Portland currently finds itself in: the Michael Graves-designed Portland Building, one of the most important examples of early postmodernism, requires renovation work to the tune of $95 million; unfortunately, most residents of Portland “really, really hate” the building – as they have since it was constructed in 1983. Should the city spend so much money renovating a building which is unpopular, dysfunctional and poorly built just because of its cultural significance? Read the original article for more.

A Crash Course on Modern Architecture (Part 2)

, New York, is a good example of what is to come. Image © Iwan Baan

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.

The one person, who is consistently thinking and writing about this problem, is Rem Koolhaas, a co-founder of OMA.

Denise Scott Brown Demands Recognition from Pritzker

© Frank Hanswijk

During a speech at the AJ Women in Architecture luncheon in London last week, postmodern icon Denise Scott Brown requested to be acknowledged retrospectively for her role in Robert Venturi’s 1991 Pritzker Prize, describing Pritzker’s inability to acknowledge her involvement as “very sad”.

Although at the time of the award Brown had co-partnered their practice Venturi Scott Brown and Associates for over 22 years and played a critical role in the evolution of architectural theory and design alongside Venturi for the over 30 years, as well as co-authored the transformative 1970’s book Learning from Las Vegas, her role as “wife” seemed to have trumped her role as an equal partner when the Pritzker jury chose to only honor her husband, Venturi.

More information and an online petition after the break…

Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A.

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The Getty Trust is partnering with Pacific Standard Time to present 11 individual exhibitions throughout LA’s museums that will explore the history and heritage of the city’s architecture and its influential designers.  As musician, photographer and architectural blogger Moby boasts, “LA has the most diverse architecture of any city on the planet”.  Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in LA will explore this diversity that covers post World War II architecture through today with specific points of view ranging in architectural style, influence and decade.  The exhibitions, which will run from April through July 2013, are a follow-up to last year’s Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA, 1945-1980. The focus of the exhibitions will range in scale and cover the monumental and everyday architectural moments that make LA unique.  Exhibitions will present iconic modernist homes and cultural landmarks as well as coffee shops, car washes, and the freeways in addition to  the un-built architectural fantasies of modernism and post-modernism.

Follow us after the break for the eleven exhibitions that will be part of PST’s event.

AD Classics: Neue Staatsgalerie / James Stirling

© Flickr User: pov_steve

In 1977, as part of a city wide planning initiative, the Prime Minister of Baden – Württemberg, Hans Filbinger, held a private international competition to design the Neue Staatsgalerie that would revitalize and reinvigorate the cultural influence in , . The competition posed the issues of making a connection to the older Staatsgalerie that dated back to 1843, as well as traversing the sites dramatic slope.  By 1979, the jury unanimously chose a design by James Stirling of Michael Wilford & Associates in London.

Completed in 1984, Stirling’s design incorporated the sloping site as part of an architectural promenade that moved the public walkway through the museum that embodied the transitions of the classical art of the Alte Staatsgalerie and the modern art of the Neue Staatsgalerie into one seamless architectural response.

More on the Neue Staatsgalerie by James Stirling after the break.

AD Classics: Denver Central Library / Michael Graves & Associates

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Michael Graves, one of the most respected and original minds of post-modern architecture, was commissioned in 1990 to renovate and design an extension to the Denver Central Library.  Known for his surreal and “entertainment” architecture; Graves’ implemented traditional post-modern motifs of abstracted classical forms, natural materials, and colors commonly found in past centuries.

Sitting adjacent to Daniel Libeskind’s Denver Art Museum, the Denver Central Library stands as the 8th largest library in the United States, as well as the largest library between Chicago and , attracting over a million visitors each year.

AD Classics: Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort / Michael Graves

© Flickr - User: Jeff B.

In a world where anything in your imagination can become a reality, Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, stayed true to their word and hired architect Michael Graves to design a resort consisting of two hotels that would become part of Disney’s famous collection of “entertainment architecture.” Graves’ postmodern, colorful style was the perfect choice for the playful themepark resort, and his whimsical design decisions and statues of grandeur contribute to the famous Disney kingdom. The theme for the design of the hotels sprung right from its early conceptual stages, where Graves developed an entire story to create characters for both the Swan and the Dolphin in a magical tale that he thought could potentially become Disney characters.

More images and information after the break.

AD Classics: Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi

© Maria Buszek

Most critics usually regard consistency in architecture an important aspect of the design. However in the Vanna Venturi House Robert Venturi took the road less travelled and tested complexity and contradiction in architecture, going against the norm. Located in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania on a flat site isolated by surrounding trees, Venturi designed and built the house for his mother between 1962 and 1964. In testing his beliefts on complexity and contradition (for which he also wrote the book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture), Venturi went through six fully worked-out versions of the house which slowly became known as the first example of Postmodern architecture.

More on the Vanna Venturi House after the break.